Report of the Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh State Consultation held in Chennai on 5th and 6th February 2007

A One and half day consultation on the “Draft National Rural Housing and Habitat Policy” was organized by Architecture & Development (A&D) and basin-South Asia Regional Knowledge Platform, on 5th - 6th February 2007 at Hotel President, in Chennai. This was the eleventh in the series of state consultations conducted so far. The Consultation was attended by participants from various stakeholder groups like PRIs, Educational Institutions, NGOs, CSOs and Media.

 Shirley Rebello

Prior to the state level consultation in Chennai, ISED, a partner organization of A & D conducted three district level consultations on National Rural Habitat Policy in Madurai ( 19th January’07), Mayiladuthurai (25th February’07), and Erode (31stFebruaray’07). Mr. K.Loganathan of ISED shared the inputs received from the district level consultations with the audience. He highlighted various issues discussed by the participants at the district level consultations related to accessing housing schemes such as corruption, wrong selection of beneficiaries, and delay in the land acquisition. These are major hurdles in access to social housing schemes by the marginalized sections of the rural society.

The key points of the State Level Discussion in Chennai were :

1. Area of houses as per IAY (Indira Awas Yojana)is inadequate.

2. Grants provided to the poor are inadequate. Although the cost of materials is increasing, there has been no proportional increase of funds to the beneficiaries.

3. Only those with ‘pattas’(land deeds) can avail of IAY, making it difficult for the marginalized to get a house.

4. Often, inappropriate construction technology gets promoted due to lack of adequate knowledge and skills in the locality

5. A mere house is not enough, a dignified house is what matters for the rural poor.

6. Those eligible for availing one scheme should not be prohibited from availing other schemes.

There was also a discussion on other aspects of implementation of popular housing schemes for rural communities in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry, like Group Housing scheme, Innovative Stream of housing, Samagra Awas, Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).

Specific action areas of the policy were discussed at length with regards to land access and management,access to finance, legal and regulatory reforms, capacity development etc.

Policy imperatives for Rural Habitat Development in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry were also discussed and the among the key points were community participation and involvement of all stake holders, sensitizing the local population and involvement of women.

The consultation ended on a positive note. It was unanimously felt that the consultations should not be seen as a one-off event. Rather, it should be seen as a trigger for a larger dialogue in the states towards influencing policies, processes and practice for addressing the housing and habitat needs of the rural poor.