Abhishek Jha, PRIA
It’s quite known by now that Government of India’s one of the most ambitious projects Rajiv Awas Yojana (launched in the year 2011) to make India slum free could not live up to people’s expectation. Though there were some considerable progress under this scheme in some of the states but largely it faltered at most of the places, (it seems so at least in the initial phase). If we take the case of Bihar the progress of RAY was even more dismal, in fact it never started because of the reasons which were more political than technical. RAY was a casualty to political demands for declaring Bihar a special category state, since this scheme had different provisions of fund sharing for special category and general states. Nonetheless, this status was never given to Bihar and there was no progress under the scheme. Notably, when the RAY was launched in the country, Government of Bihar prepared a half-baked ‘Bihar State Slum Policy’ in the end of the year 2011 and proudly announced that it is the first state in the county to get a state slum policy passed through its cabinet, but there was (is) no mention of time bound quantified targets and approaches that would be taken in the policy for addressing the needs of urban poor in the state.
Subsequently this political tussle between the state and central government virtually shelved RAY for almost two years in the state, but off late when the political climate across the country changed (thanks to Lok Sabha elections 2014) government of Bihar took some initiatives to launch RAY in the state. At the end of the year 2013 tenders were floated to for hiring agencies for preparing DPRs and Slum Free Plans of Actions for 38 districts headquarter cities of Bihar under RAY and in no time agencies were hired and DPRs were prepared for most of the 38 district headquarter cities of the state, but out of these only few were given a green signal for implementation. Out of those selected also are the two settlements of Patna viz. Adalatganj and Yarpur where in-situ up gradation is being proposed.
Till date all the surveys have been completed, maps of these settlements are being prepared and people living in these settlements are in upbeat mood envisaging that they will have their own homes soon. But interestingly, knowingly or unknowingly all these progresses has not been shared in the public domain, neither in the media nor elsewhere. Now, if we reflect on the performance of BSUP in the state, it goes like this altogether 2 0,372 dwellings units were sanctioned and DPRs were prepared (it had passed all the processes which is being done for RAY now, including soil testing for construction for G+4 structure ), but finally only 544 dwelling units could be constructed. The most dominating reason behind this was issue of land ownership and availability of hassle free land was not established during the preparation of DPRs which consequently affected the whole project and ultimately the urban poor community. In most of the cases there were multiple-owners of a small piece of land, for which DPRs were prepared, being it be in the form deferent government departments or private ownership. Unfortunately state government didn’t take the lessons of previous failure sincerely and have again prepared DPRs under RAY for settlements where land ownership is multiple. The chances of this project hitting a rough patch as well cannot be ruled out, but hopes stay afloat in galore among the projected beneficiaries in the absence of any information.