Sunday, August 18, 2013

20,000 houses for the destitute last year will constuct another 30,000 this year[not in Maharashtra]

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has bucked a countrywide trend to register the steepest decline in the number of homeless people among all states in a decade.

According to the summary report of the directorate of census operations, the number of homeless people in the state dropped by 41% between 2001 and 2011. While the number of the urban destitute increased by 20% across the country in this period, it fell by 35% in Tamil Nadu.

In rural areas of the state, 52% fewer people were homeless in the state in 2011 as compared to 10 years earlier. The number of rural homeless dropped by 9% nationwide.

The report was released online on Monday but was taken down immediately. Sources said the report is likely to be released next week.

Officials from the municipal administration and water supply department say the state did not have any significant changes in social schemes from 2001 to 2011 as compared to the decade before that (1991 to 2001), but the state has implemented these projects meticulously.

"The state built 20,000 houses for the destitute last year," an official said. "It will constuct another 30,000 in the state this year. The houses were built at a cost of 2,000 crore under the Basic Services For the Urban Poor Scheme."

An additional 90,000 houses will be built under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP). "Under the scheme, the funding must be 50% from the Centre and 50% from the state. But invariably, the state ends up paying 60% to 75%. Tamil Nadu has managed to do this and that has made the difference," the official said.

According to the 2001 census, Tamil Nadu had 7.3% of the country's urban homeless and Chennai accounted for 75% of the state's urban homeless. "People from all over the country come here in search of work," the official said.

Experts say the census numbers may not always reflect ground reality, but Tamil Nadu has done well to cut the number of destitute people in the state.

"The state's schemes are progressive and have been implemented well. You have to give credit to the government," said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher at the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities who also co-authored the SC guidelines.

"But the government should set up a single authority to coordinate welfare schemes. A homeless person needs to avail of four different schemes," she said.

Enumeration also remains a problem for this invisible community. "The Supreme Court in 2012 came up with detailed guidelines on how enumeration of the homeless has to be carried out," Peter said, adding that enumerators may not have always followed the guidelines.

The percentage of homeless people in the state has dropped from 0.14% of the overall population in 2001 to 0.07% in 2011. In urban areas, it fell from 4.5% to 3.4%.