The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government won two consecutive terms on their ‘development’ agenda. The slogan of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ has echoed in parliament as the NDA government has planned and implemented various development interventions that foreground growth, sustainability, and the resilience of urban India, and an improvement of urban livelihoods. The NDA government announced a host of new or renewed flagship schemes under this mandate: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana–Urban [PMAY(U)], Smart Cities Mission (SCM), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission–Urban [SBM(U)], Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana–National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY–NULM) which are being implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
Since their implementation, and more so after the devastating pandemic, the NDA government’s schemes for urban citizens and workers have come under closer scrutiny. The scale and depth of urban informality became overbearingly apparent during the pandemic. Statistics show that 90 per cent of all employed workers in India are informally employed, and in urban India alone the number is as high as 79.2 percent of total employed. The cycle of precarity inherent to urban informal livelihoods was exposed during the pandemic; with no work and no stable incomes, access to food, water, health, housing, education, etc. in cities has suffered long-term effects. In the aftermath of the migrant worker exodus, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) launched the e-Shram database and introduced other social security benefits for the informally employed.
Against the backdrop of the people’s mandate, the pandemic, and in the context of the upcoming 2024 general elections, it becomes important to analyse the pace and direction these flagship schemes have taken in the past year. The YUVA Parliamentary Watch Report 2022 assesses the performance of these flagship schemes as reported by the MoHUA and MoLE in the parliamentary sessions of 2022.
The report uses the questions raised in parliament by the Members of Parliament (MPs) as the principal data source to document the important issues raised, and status of implementation of different urban sector schemes. These parliamentary questions can be accessed by the public and are a useful tool for development practitioners to understand the gaps in schemes, between the on-paper provisions versus the grassroots implementation. The report is part of YUVA’s continued efforts to review and analyse parliamentary discussions on urban issues. You can read the 2022 report here, and the previous reports here: PWR 2021, PWR 2020, PWR 2019 and PWR 2018.
Some of the major findings of the report include:
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) [PMAY (U)]: The PMAY(U) started off with a target of building 2 crore houses. This target was eventually reduced by 50 per cent as the total assessed demand reported by the states/union territories (UTs) was reported to be 1.12 crore houses. As of 2022, 122.69 lakh houses have been sanctioned under PMAY-U, where most houses have been sanctioned under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) component. 106 lakh houses had been grounded and 65.5 lakh houses completed and delivered to the beneficiaries. Only about half (53.38 per cent) of total sanctioned homes have been completed since 2015. One caveat to the presented data is that the government acknowledges that 3.41 lakh completed houses were those sanctioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNUrM), a scheme that was discontinued in 2014.
The need for affordable housing for migrant workers was a hot topic of discussion during COVID-19, and in response, the government launched the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) sub-scheme under PMAY. ARCH was launched in July 2020 and 1,63,807 ARCH units were sanctioned. The physical progress on this time-sensitive housing component has been negligible. Most new rental housing has been sanctioned in satellite towns to major cities. Living at the margin of employment opportunities, the cost of the commute to major cities alone will nullify the positive effects of affordable rental housing for migrant workers.
Table 1: PMAY (U) PROGRESS
|Houses Sanctioned||Houses Grounded||Houses Completed|
|122.69 lakhs||106 lakhs||65.5 lakhs|
AMRUT 2.0: AMRUT was relaunched as AMRUT 2.0 in October 2021, with the aim to make urban India ‘water secure’ by promoting a circular economy of water. The second phase of this Mission is unique as it seeks community involvement for monitoring projects by engaging with self-help groups (SHGs), students, and citizen feedback, and promotes urban-rural convergence to improve the reuse of treated water and co-operative use of water and sewage treatment facilities.
In terms of the tangible successes of the Mission, 126 lakh new water tap connections have been provided against the target of 139 lakh connections and 95 lakh new sewer connections have been achieved against the target of 149 lakh sewer connections.
Under AMRUT 2.0, INR 66,750 crore (87 per cent of total Central Assistance) has been allocated to projects under sewerage and septage management sector. However, the country’s capacity of treatment of sewage waste is still not up to the mark. So far, only 282 sewage treatment plants (STPs) with a total capacity of 6,246 million litres per day (MLD) have been sanctioned. Of this, 128 STPs with a total capacity of 2,740.7 MLD have already been completed, and 154 STPs with a capacity of 3504.84 MLD are in progress. Furthermore, the distribution of STPs across the country is uneven and therefore, the sewage treatment capacity across states/UTs varies widely.
Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)-Urban 2.0: The second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, SBM-U 2.0, was launched with the aspiration of making India’s cities ‘garbage free’, in addition to its primary focus on sanitation. In a first, the government has moved its focus to waste management and waste processing, including the remediation of legacy waste (i.e., ‘old’ partially or fully decomposed mixed waste) through mission ‘Lakshya Zero Dumpsite’. In terms of everyday waste management, the MoHUA stated that urban India generates 1,51,745 metric tons (MT) of municipal solid waste of which 1,12,291.3 MT is processed daily. However, similar to the distribution of sewage treatment capacities, the capacities for solid waste management (SWM) in the country are not equitably distributed. A deeper analysis of the data shows very little uniformity exists in the amount of money being spent, size of the states, quantity of waste produced, and the SWM capabilities on the ground.
In 2022, in a landmark success, except for Purulia in West Bengal, of the total 4,372 urban local bodies (ULBs) in the country, 4,371 ULBs were declared 100 percent open defecation free (ODF). 62,64,914 individual household toilets were built against the target of 58,99,637 and 6,23,682 community and public toilets were built against the target of 5,07,588. Since the start of the Mission, the targets on building individual toilets as well as community and public toilets have repeatedly fluctuated, begging the question, what incentives will the state/UT governments have to increase sanitation access if the Mission targets are already shown to be met?
Smart Cities Mission (SCM): In 2022, it was announced that 100 smart cities selected through 4 rounds of competition have been granted the extended deadline of June 2023 to complete their smart cities projects. Under the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF), 126 cities participated in the exercise. 31 cities have achieved an overall rating of 1-star; 64 cities have achieved 2-star; 22 cities 3-star and 9 cities have achieved 4-star rating.
Under SCM, each selected city was promised central assistance of INR 500 crore under the (initial) 5-year plan. Yet, with the deadline fast approaching, 37 of 100 cities have received and utilised less than 40 per cent (>INR 200 crore) of the promised CA of INR 500 crore budget by 2022.
Overall, work orders have been issued for 7,738 projects worth around INR 1,81,112 crore, of which 4,987 projects worth INR 92,439 crore have been completed, while 2,751 projects worth INR 88,673 crore are in progress.
In 2022, the push for green building and construction has picked up pace and found mention in the Parliament. The work on six Light House Projects (LHPs) using six distinct and innovative constructing technologies initiated in 2021 has picked up pace. The six LHPs at Chennai, Rajkot, Indore, Lucknow, Ranchi and Agartala comprising total 6,368 houses with total project cost of INR 790 crore are being constructed.
Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana–National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY–NULM): Despite the DAY–NULM being functional since 2013, the Mission is falling behind its first core objective of generating incomes, and the discrepancies in the parliamentary data present a hazy picture. In a period of almost 10 years, only 13 lakh urban poor have been imparted skill training, of which about half or more than 6.78 lakh trained have been placed under self and/or wage employment. The Ministry reported that 7.8 lakh SHGs have been formed, more than 5.36 lakh SHGs have been assisted with a revolving fund and 7.17 lakh loans have been disbursed under the SHG bank linkage programme for income improving activities. However, statistical discrepancies plague the data on loan disbursements wherein 62.91 per cent of the loans were given out in just Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The credit scheme, that is the PM SVANidhi yojana, launched during the pandemic for street vendors, has gained popularity in the last few years. The first tranche loan of INR 10,000 is a poplar credit option with 31,85,665 loans having been disbursed till December 2022; second tranche loans of INR 20,000 have been disbursed to 5,95,390 beneficiaries; third tranche loans of INR 50,000 have been disbursed to 7,606 beneficiaries.
The performance of DAY-NULM on its second objective of protecting livelihoods has also been sub-par. For several years, the government has been criticised for the lack of shelter homes for the homeless despite clear DAY–NULM guidelines. Only 2,414 shelters have been sanctioned for the urban homeless population out of which 1,678 shelters with a capacity of 96,386 persons were completed by March 2022. The number of functional shelters increased to 1,788 by 30 November 2022. The capacity of the shelters is much lower than the homeless population identified through third-party surveys which pegs the urban homeless population at 2,45,783!
Labour and Employment
The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) reported that the unemployment rate in India was at a three-year low. However, the unemployment rate in urban India is almost double that of rural India, which is deeply concerning. Even more concerning was the fact that unemployment is decidedly higher among diploma holders (14.2 per cent) and graduates (17.2 per cent) as per PLFS 2019–2020 data shared in parliament. A 2007 report by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector pegged the number of informal workers at 39.5 crore or 86 per cent of the total workforce. Given this economic scenario, the government was quizzed about its provisions, schemes and benefits for the largest section of workers: the informal workers. The MoLE reported that under the e-Shram portal, 28,45,65,622 informal workers had been registered; the all-India survey on domestic workers and All-India survey on migrant workers was underway in an effort to enumerate and identify this category of informal workers.
The MoLE reported the following outreach for its social protection schemes for informal workers: 14.02 crore beneficiaries have been enrolled under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and 30.57 crore beneficiaries have been enrolled under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. 49.18 lakh workers including rural and farm labourers have been enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan. 21.02 crore individuals have been verified and provided with the Ayushman Cards under Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana have been issued.
When presented in terms of number of beneficiaries and budgetary investments, the achievements and the outreach of the schemes seem noteworthy. But practitioners, activists and academics on the ground are well aware of the many challenges, delays, and administrative red-tapism the urban poor workers face when accessing these schemes and benefits.
The PWR 2022 found that the foremost problem faced during analysis stemmed from an unresearched approach to parliamentary proceedings by the MPs. The asking and framing of weak questions was as much to blame as the Ministry’s repetitive and/or vague responses and easily dodged questions. Rather than just demanding hard data from the Ministries, there is a need to use the constitutional tool of parliamentary questions to ask the Ministries about the challenges on the ground and the mechanisms for redressal. As an advocacy strategy, grassroots organisations and practitioners must reach out to their local MPs and take the workers’ questions and challenges to the parliamentary floor with the hope that questions and discussions will allow the government to steer the schemes towards better, faster and more equitable implementation.