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“The PPP model for land acquisition is good but...”
Arun Kumar Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, tells B&E that an elaborate exercise is underway to make 250 cities slum-free under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) & JNNURM, but the road has significant challenges.
Issue Date - 30/04/2012
B&E: What lessons can other local governments learn from the PPP model adopted by the Vijayawada municipality in land acquisition?
Arun Kumar Mishra (AKM): The Vijayawada model is a typical model where people pooled their land and sacrificed a part of it, so that what remained could rise in value through development. This saves a lot of time and helps create the initial capital investment for the purchase of land. The only upfront cost involved therefore is the amount needed to improve infrastructure. But the process gives a lot of confidence to people who have to part with a piece of their land. Eventually, there is value and quality that gets added to the land acquired.

B&E: Do you have plans to replicate it?
AKM: Replication of such a model demands that the local or state government should primarily take into confidence a group of people and make them realise that they have a stake in development of their land. Having said that, I must add that we can’t make such a model mandatory. However, I am sure that people will ultimately understand the importance and viability of such a model.

B&E: And how many municipalities in your knowledge have expressed interest in copying this PPP model?
AKM: Such a project requires a collective effort on the part of the government officials and the people. The officials should be able to mobilise people and create awareness among them. You must appreciate that it is difficult to bring even five people together and make them understand a problem in the same light. The model cannot be universalised as people and their awareness levels are different. Of course, Gujarat is another classic example of land pooling. Today, our primary goal is in situ development. But where this is not possible we go in for separate/alternative land. Most municipalities have been successful in getting government land for resettlement. It is only in those cities where such lands are not available that such experiments are being tried out.

B&E: We hear that your ministry is planning to come up with schemes to reward municipalities who show a good record in slum resettlement & development. Is that true?
AKM: Under the new Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) we want to introduce incentives for good performing municipalities. We plan to not only give away rewards but also monetary incentives. We are still designing the new JNNURM programme. We want to keep 10% of our budget aside as incentive fund. The best performers will get a part of that kitty.

B&E: What is the progress of the Rajiv Awas Yojana that purports to make India a slum-free country?
AKM: We are implementing JNNURM and RAY simultaneously. The difference between JNNURM and RAY is that we want states under RAY to give titles to slum dwellers, which is a very difficult call. Basically, giving facility to a slum dweller by spending money, constructing houses and roads is easy. But the decision to award title of land to an individual becomes a different ball game altogether. RAY is in the pilot phase in six cities. But they are still to be implemented fully. The initial projects sanctioned cover states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh et al. The blanket allocation for RAY this year is $195 million. Currently, we have identified 250 cities to start with. It is much more detailed than JNNURM. The slum-free city preparation under RAY will take at least a year to be completed.

B&E: Have you factored-in the rise of migration into areas where your slum development projects are on?
AKM: We have migration details for the past 15 years in cities where our pilot projects for RAY are underway. In RAY, we are looking at a preventive concept in the sense that slums don’t mushroom again. This can be done in two ways – either by reserving lands exclusively for cheap houses or by providing rental accommodation.
K. S. Narayanan           

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