Improving Housing for Urban Poor: Learnings from BLC Implementation in Odisha
In response to the national housing scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), the Government of Odisha designed the Odisha Urban Housing Mission – Awaas in 2015 to realise the goal of housing for all in the state. With an additional outlay as subsidy from the state government and the Centre to the economically weaker sections for building houses on their own land, the Beneficiary-led ‘Individual House’ Construction or Enhancement (BLC) vertical emerged as the most preferred.
During the initial days of implementation, the lack of documentary evidence for the land occupied by slum dwellers continued to exclude the majority from the purview of the BLC subsidy. To address this impediment and to enable a wider traction of the scheme, the State introduced the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act, 2017, entitling the urban poor to rights on the land parcels they had been residing on, depending on the tenability. After the completion of the pilot phase of the Act, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha launched the JAGA Mission, to expand the land rights programme and to transform the existing slums into liveable habitats, with the provision of all essential civic urban infrastructure.
Against this background, this report aims to understand (a) the impact of the distribution of Land Rights Certificates (LRCs) among the urban poor on their ability to leverage the housing subsidy under BLC and (b) the existing conditions and challenges in the construction of houses through BLC under PMAY in Odisha. For this purpose, a stratified sample survey of 250 households was carried out in three cities of Odisha – Dhenkanal, Gopalpur and Berhampur – in addition to Key Informant Interviews (KIIs).
The study finds that the dissemination of land rights to the urban poor, after the commencement of the JAGA Mission, enhanced the potential beneficiary base in the state for leveraging available BLC housing subsidies. However, the ensuing ‘house only’ approach in the State and the limited focus on improving access to basic services require urgent redressal. While the steps adopted by the Government of Odisha are vital to address the issues of urban planning and housing for slum dwellers, there is now a looming need to adopt a multi-pronged approach towards ensuring an overall habitat improvement and an integration of slums into the city fabric.