The Issue :
It is the responsibility of a society to ensure that basic human rights and equity of opportunities for growth are available to all citizens. As a nation, we give ourselves ``policies’’ to create conditions that cause the realization of rights and equitable access to opportunities.
The National Habitat Policy over the decades, has sought to achieve the aim of ``adequate habitat (shelter) for all’’. It has undergone many revisions to suit national priorities and changing macro - social and economic conditions. The last National Habitat Policy of 1998, although comprehensive, could not provide adequate direction, especially to rural areas in the absence of a focus on the distinct concerns and needs of these areas. Hence the country now needs a `Rural Housing and Habitat policy’ based on the priorities and potential of rural India in order that Rural Habitat concerns are adequately and realistically addressed. The ultimate aim of this policy is to ensure sustainable and inclusive development of rural settlements in India and to promote habitat, livelihoods and a better quality of life for all citizens of rural India.
The Idea :
A Draft National Rural Housing and Habitat Policy (NRHHP) 2005 for the consideration of the Government of India has been facilitated by the basin South Asia Regional Knowledge Platform, initiated by Development Alternatives.
Basin-SA conducted the research and documentation for preparation of the draft policy with support of the Building and Social Housing Foundation, UK and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Basin-SA is a network of civil society organizations committed to developing knowledge systems and promoting collaborative action within South Asia to enable access by the poor to sustainable habitat and livelihoods.
In this process, intensive research and consultations with practitioners and policy makers across the country were carried out to form an understanding of rural conditions, strengths, needs and potential for large scale development of habitat and livelihoods in rural areas. This has resulted in the development of a `Framework for a Rural Habitat Policy for India’’ and has further motivated basin-SA to initiate a country wide process of engaging different stakeholders for developing a draft of the Rural Habitat Policy - as it should be and proposing it to the Government of India.
As a first step, a consultation was organized on 23rd Feb 2006 in New Delhi by Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan, facilitated by basin-SA and supported by DFID’s Poorest Areas Civil Society Program. The consultation brought together NGO’s, bankers and government functionaries to discuss, debate and propose clauses for the policy document, and has led to the first working draft of the proposed ``National Rural Housing and Habitat Policy’’ It serves as a base for further discussions with state level actors on policy clauses that provide a comphrehensive response to rural needs and conditions in India.
As a next step, a series of 10 State Level Consultations were to be organized with local, district and state level actors for receiving specific inputs into the working draft developed at the consultation on 23rd Feb 2006. The draft will then be finalized and formally presented to the Government of India at a National Workshop later this year.
The various stakeholders expected to participate will be from :
· Village Governments or Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Gram Sabhas
· District level Government and their instruments
· State Government and their instruments
· The Central Government
· Financial and Educational Institutions
· Non-Governmental Organisations
· Private and Corporate Agencies
· Research and Technology Transfer Agencies
· International Funding agencies
Background of other consultations
So far nine such consultations have been conducted in collaboration with DFID’s PACS Program covering the states of Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, west Bengal, Maharashtra, Goa, Daman and Diu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The consultation for the Kerala and Lakshadweep was conducted in collaboration with KILA and SDC-CapDeck Program. Subsequent consultation in Karnataka was hosted by HOTEC Consulting and those in Rajasthan and Gujarat were hosted by Unnati