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Central government funds three thousand crore to build houses for urban poor

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New Delhi: The central government approved a project, on this Wednesday, to provide Rs.3,231 crore to five states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan – for constructing 2,28,204 houses for urban poor.

The project was approved by the Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry.

Of the houses approved, 2,17,748 were for economically weaker sections (EWS), whereas the rest are for low-income groups, an official statement said.

Under the two components, the central assistance at the rate of Rs.1.50 lakh per house will be provided.


In the light of the experience of implementation of housing projects in the past, this time around the Ministry of HUPA has ensured availability of land for all the proposed projects with respective state governments providing land as their share of affordable housing in partnership,


Andhra Pradesh has been sanctioned with 1,93,147 houses in 37 cities, followed by Gujarat with 15,580 houses in 4 cities, Telangana 10,290 in 10 cities, Rajasthan 6,255 in 10 cities and Tamil Nadu 2,932 houses in 5 cities.

(Inputs from IANS)


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Economic Survey 2016-17 : Arun Jaitley Says Significant Decline in India’s Reliance on Cash

Economic Survey is a snapshot of the state the country is in

Economic survey presents a state of the country
The Economic Survey 2016-17 was charted by Finance Minister Jaitley on August 11 (representational image) Wikimedia
  • Finance Minister Jaitley tabled the second volume of Economic Survey 2016-17 in both Houses of Parliament
  • Second volume to be presented by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and his team

New Delhi, August 12, 2017: The last day of the Monsoon session of the Parliament saw the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley table the second part of Economic Survey 2016-2017.

The survey revealed that a sharp, however balanced decline has been observed in the use of cash after Prime Minister Narendra Modi heralded the demonetization move in November last year. This trend has been observed both, in levels, and as a share of GDP and money.

Before assessing whether the move was a success or a failure, we must first identify what were the objectives behind stalling Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes,

  • Immediate objective – flush out large amounts of black money that were hoarded in cash at the moment
  • Long term objective – transform the cash-based Indian economy into a digital economy

It was assumed that these objectives would make India an efficient economy with higher tax revenues.

Before the introduction of demonetization, India heavily relied on cash, which in turn led to an unhealthy cash-to-GDP ratio (12 percent) – a trend that was only worsening with time.

The finance minister presented the second volume of Economic Survey 2016-17 in both the houses of the Parliament with demonetization being discussed for a significant part. The following has been revealed in an attempt to gauge the outcome of the move,

  • At present, total cash in holding is Rs. 3.5 lakh crore. This figure is 20 percent less than what it would have been had the economy not been demonetized.
  • Cash as a share of GDP has also witnessed a decline by 1.6 percentage points. Previously it was 11.3 percent of GDP and now stands at 9.7 GDP.
  • Cash as a share of M1 which economically represents liquid portions of money supply, has also declined by five percentage points.

To ease understanding of everybody from a non-economic background, these trends indicate a significant reduction in Indian economy’s reliance on cash since November 2016.

Another bonus point is the huge amount of cash that was previously lying dormant with people and has now entered the banking system.

ALSO READ: Indian Government’s Demonetisation measures did not impede Future Black Money Flows: UN report

When talking about the long term objective of the move- digitalization, a significant movement can be observed across all sectors :

  • The affluent segment of the society has increasingly shifted to mobile banking, online transactions, and app-based banking solutions
  • The middle segment are using their debit and credit cards
  • People from the less affluent segment are slowly joining the digital economy with their Jan Dhan accounts and RuPay cards
  • Pensioners who were previously only undertaking transactions in cash are now being encouraged to use card-based techniques.
  • Farmers, who comprise a significant part of the Indian economy, are also being encouraged to issue and use Kisan credit cards.

The Indian banking sector is not only promoting the issuance of debit and credit cards but also their use.

The question that comes to mind here is, was demonetization successful? 

It would be wrong to say that the economy has completely transformed into a digital economy as many people have shifted back to cash. However, digital transactions are higher than pre-demonetization levels, and the overall movement is in the positive direction.

The Indian economy can thus, be rightly considered on the path to a holistic digital economy as the Economic Survey 2016-2017 notes “surge has moderated but the level and pace of digitalization are still substantially greater than before demonetization.”

However, while there is proof that the reliance on cash has declined sharply, it has also been pointed out in the survey that a “definitive judgments can only be passed if current levels of cash relative to GDP persist over time but so far”.

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“Save Yourself From Sun” : Heat Waves in India Affects the Urban Poor Hardest, says Study

FILE - Indians reach for a cold drink being freely distributed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. Most parts of northern India are experiencing intense heat wave conditions with the temperature crossing 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). VOA

In summer, life becomes intolerable for rickshaw puller Mohammad Khan.

“I keep running into the shade to save myself from the sun,” he said as he waited for mid-afternoon customers in a busy New Delhi market.

Like millions of others, Khan is experiencing on the ground what a recent study has highlighted: Heat waves in India have become deadlier and further global warming could take a “relatively drastic” human toll in the coming years.

Amir Aghakouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine who co-authored the study, said they found that even small variations in temperature are causing the change.

“While mean temperatures from 1960 to 2009 increased by around 0.5 C degrees, both heat waves and mortality have increased substantially,” he said.

FILE - A girl cools off herself in the waters of the river Ganges during a hot summer morning in Allahabad, India, May 31, 2015. Temperature in Allahabad on Sunday is expected to reach 46 degree Celsius (114.8 degree Fahrenheit).
FILE – A girl cools off herself in the waters of the river Ganges during a hot summer morning in Allahabad, India, May 31, 2015. Temperature in Allahabad on Sunday is expected to reach 46 degree Celsius (114.8 degree Fahrenheit). VOA


Grim warning

The India-specific study is the latest grim warning of how new deadly summer highs are affecting India, where millions cope with perennial shortages of water and power.

Spring became summer when temperatures crossed 40 degrees Celsius in March in several parts of the country this year. Last year was declared the warmest year on record since 1901, and in May 2016, the northern town of Phalodi shattered the national heat record when the mercury touched 51 degrees Celsius. In 2015, the world’s fifth deadliest heat wave seared large swathes of India, claiming about 2,500 victims.

The director of the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar, Dileep Mavalankar, said, “heat waves are the single most important reason of disaster-related deaths in India in the last few years although only the tip of the iceberg is getting reported.”

Focus on poor people

As record-breaking heat becomes a fact of life, the focus is turned on millions of poor people who are impacted the most by more intense summers, particularly in urban areas.

According to Aghakouchak, “adverse effects are pummeling the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

They are wage workers, such as construction laborers, rickshaw pullers, hawkers and vendors who toil outdoors in the day and live in sweltering slums. And in sprawling cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, where the population tops 20 million, the only shelter people on the street often find is in metro stations or under road bridges.

The deputy director at New Delhi’s Center for Science and Environment, Chandra Bhushan, said what is called an “urban heat island” effect is taking a huge toll on the health, productivity and livelihoods of poor people in cities.

“It’s a concrete jungle where heat gets trapped and many studies indicate that the temperature in city centers is 5 degrees, even 7 degrees higher than the ambient temperature,” he said.

Shorter work days

A report by the U.N. Environment Program last year said workers such as farmers or construction laborers will have to shorten their work days within four decades, simply because it will be too hot outdoors. That could result in significant economic loss for poor people in countries such as India.

Researchers in New Delhi say that is already happening. Studies have demonstrated that street hawkers and others lose three to four hours of work a day because even acclimatized populations are unable to cope with the spiking temperatures.

On a hot summer morning, 17-year-old Anil Kumar, is downcast. He usually hangs around Delhi’s popular landmark India Gate, hoping to make some money taking photos of visitors, but the crowds are much thinner than usual.

“I have come since the morning, but have not got a single customer. It is so sunny, people don’t come,” he said.

FILE - An Indian auto rickshaw driver, right, drinks sweetened water being freely distributed by the wayside on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017.
FILE – An Indian auto rickshaw driver, right, drinks sweetened water being freely distributed by the wayside on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. VOA


Heat Action Plan

As studies highlight that the high temperatures are here to stay, there have been growing calls for the government to draw up contingency plans to cope with heat events in the same manner as natural disasters like earthquakes and cyclones.

A handful of cities are now launching a Heat Action Plan begun five years ago in the western Ahmedabad city that has helped bring down heat-related deaths.

Mavalankar said it involves public awareness campaigns, setting up cooling spaces in public buildings, training doctors and alerting supervisors on how to protect laborers.

But the efforts are sporadic and more programs need to be implemented nationwide, experts say.

“You don’t allow people to work in the afternoon, you have availability of water and shelter, you have emergency medical response and office timings are changed,” Bhushan said. “In long term in urban areas, there is a lot of talk of having more greenery in the city to reduce the impact of heat island effect.”

A small start has been made. Last year, the Indian meteorological department began putting out temperature advisories from April to June for 100 Indian cities to encourage people to stay indoors on very hot days. However that is unlikely to help rickshaw puller Khan or photographer Kumar, who have no option but to earn their livelihood under a blazing sun. (VOA)

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Online Submission of House Applications by Urban Poor from Thursday under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

Beneficiaries have to visit the nearest CSC for seeking assistance for seeking benefits of PMAY(Urban) online

Representational Image, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Nov 2, 2016: The government on Wednesday announced that online submission of applications by the urban poor for affordable houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) will be enabled from Thursday.

An agreement in this regard was signed by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Common Services Centre e-Governance Services India Limited of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in the presence of respective ministers M.Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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“Out of the over two lakh common services centre across the country, about 60,000 located in urban areas will enable online submission of applications from November 3, 2016 at a nominal cost of Rs 25 per application,” said an official statement.

“As per the agreement, CSCs will also facilitate printing of the acknowledgement receipt with beneficiary photograph which helps applicants in tracking application status,” it added.

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Beneficiaries have to visit the nearest CSC for seeking assistance for seeking benefits of PMAY(Urban) online.

“In case the beneficiary does not have Aadhar Card, CSCs will enable beneficiaries acquiring them. This process of applying online is e-KYC (Know Your Client) enabled which means applications are submitted after due verification,” said the statement. (IANS)