Around 19% of urban population in J&K still lives in slums

Only half of the houses sanctioned under PMAY completed
State fails to obtain optimum benefit of Centrally Sponsored Schemes

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 3: In a testimony of dilly-dallying approach of all the concerned authorities in the implementation of several Centrally Sponsored Schemes aimed at providing housing and basic civic amenities to the urban poor, around 19% of the total urban population in Jammu and Kashmir is still living in the slums.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs through its programmatic interventions like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) has been making overarching efforts in providing housing and basic civic amenities to the urban poor including slum dwellers by assisting the States both technically and financially.
Under AMRUT, J&K’s Annul Action Plans for three years have been approved by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs at a cost of Rs 593.05 crore for water supply sector, sewerage and septage management sector and storm water drainage sector.
Similarly, under SMB-U, Union Government provides incentive of Rs 39,200 per seat for construction of community toilets in the urban areas including authorized/unauthorized colonies or notified/non-notified slums where members don’t have access to household toilets.
Under Slum Re-development Component of PMAY-U Mission, there is a provision to provide all weather pucca houses to all eligible slum dwellers. The PMAY-U Mission envisages that houses constructed by the States have basic civic infrastructure like water, sanitation, sewerage, road and electricity etc.
However, despite all these schemes and liberal financial assistance under the same, around 19% of the total urban population of Jammu and Kashmir is still living in slums, sources said quoting the figures of Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
“The urban population of J&K is over 35 lakh of which over 6 lakh is living in the slums with least or negligible basic amenities”, sources informed, adding “these figures clearly reveal that implementation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes in the housing and urban development sector has not picked up the required momentum till date”.
Pointing towards PMAY-U, they disclosed that against 14,577 houses sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for slum dwellers till date, only 9080 have been grounded and merely 7023 constructed so far. “In this way, the State has failed to obtain optimum benefit of this major scheme of the Government of India”, they remarked.
Under AMRUT, the State had projected requirement of Rs 171 crore under Annual Action Plan-I, Rs 197.33 crore under Annual Action Plan-II and Rs 224.72 crore under Annual Action Plan-III.
Till last year sufficient funds were released to J&K under the Action Plans but during the current financial year no instalment has been given to the State although only three months have left for the closure of the financial year, sources informed while expressing inability to specify the reasons behind the same.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the recent past EXCELSIOR had exclusively reported that implementation of AMRUT Scheme has yet not picked up momentum in all the selected towns. Among the towns/cities of Jammu and Kashmir selected under AMRUT, the work has picked up only in capital cities.
The components of the AMRUT consist of capacity building, reform implementation, water supply, sewerage and septage management, storm water drainage, urban transport and development of green spaces and parks. During the process of planning, the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are required to include some smart features in the physical infrastructure components.
Even reforms like e-governance, constitution and professionalization of municipal cadre, augmenting double entry accounting, devolution of funds and functions, review of building by-laws etc are required to be carried out by the Urban Local Bodies of the selected towns/cities.
“It is high-time for all the concerned authorities to work in coordination to ensure that implementation of all these schemes of the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs picks up momentum and percentage of slum population in urban areas is decreased considerably”, sources stressed.