Citizens' Issues
Government building homes that poor don't want
Over 10 years, the central government spent Rs 21,482 crore ($3.2 billion) building houses for the urban poor but 23% of them are vacant, according to a May 2016 answer to the Lok Sabha.
 
The information that 238,448 of 1,032,433 houses built are empty comes at a time when the proportion of Indians living in slums has risen over five years from 17%  of the urban population to 19%, according to official data, and 19,000 of 33,000 slums are not acknowledged by the government (2012 data).
 
The vacant houses include 224,000 built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and 14,448 houses under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) - now discontinued and subsumed into the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana launched in June 2015 - the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation said.
 
“In spite of the continuous efforts by the government, slum dwellers are reluctant to move to the houses built by the government due to lack of proper infrastructure and means of livelihood,” the statement to Parliament said, explaining further that the new houses often lack electricity and water, cheaply available-often through illegal connections-in slums. The new houses are usually not close to workplaces, the ministry acknowledged.
 
“Houses are too far from workplaces, which means additional commuting time and expense,” Kulwant Singh, India advisor, urban basic services, UN-Habitat, wrote in his Hindu Business Line column in January 2016. “In a slum, basic amenities such as electricity and water are often acquired at dirt-cheap prices. There is a certain degree of empathy and firmness that these projects lack, which consequently takes away effectiveness.”
 
Maharashtra (54,282) has the highest number of vacant houses, followed by Andhra Pradesh (24,611), states in which 24% and 35% of the urban population, respectively, lives in slums.
 
Over the last 10 years, Maharashtra got the most money to build housing for slum-dwellers (Rs 3,246 crore), followed by West Bengal (Rs 2,384 crore).
 
Of 683,724 houses sanctioned under PMAY, 0.1%, or 710 houses, have been constructed till now, according to the reply to the Lok Sabha. The government is planning to build 20 million homes under PMAY by 2022.
 
Between 2005 and 2015, Maharashtra had the highest number of sanctioned and constructed houses (175,032/128,386) under JNNURM, followed by West Bengal (171,861/158,667). The JNNURM, originally scheduled to end in 2012, has been extended to March 2017, so houses cleared for construction can be built.
 
The Census of India defines a slum as a residential area where “dwellings are unfit for human habitation (due to) dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors”.
 
Maharashtra has more slums than any state (7,723), followed by Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

11 months ago

its' confusing report if CIDCO like organisation announces any scheme public Q up for day/night and make shortfall of application forms.

Asha Paidhungat

11 months ago

In absence of proper infrastructure, electricity & water, nobody would opt to live in these houses, even if they are made available at a low price.Besides, most slum dwellers work as domestic workers or as laborers in industries.It is therefore quite obvious that unless a small township or sector is built in such areas where industries are present to give jobs to these poverty-ridden people they will not be willing to move in these houses.These sectors must be built in such a way that various commodities(Grocery, Medicines, etc) are easily
available at a feasible distance. Government could possibly try persuading them to move in there, giving some kind of incentive for those who agree.

I-T Dept yet to comply with CBDT order on publishing names of tax-exempt charities
Following repeated directions from the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had asked the Income Tax (I-T) Department to place in the public domain names of all organisation and entities that enjoyed tax exemption. However, the I-T department has not yet complied with the directions.
 
There are hundreds of thousands of charitable trusts, institutions and entities in India, which have been granted exemption from Income Tax. However, not all are in the public domain. The CIC had observed, “Charity and secrecy are contradiction in terms. Any charitable institution should have no secrets and should be open to public for all purposes, including its finances...” Thus, it has repeatedly since 2010, ordered CBDT to put the list in the public domain, the last time being in April 2016.
 
The CBDT issued a circular to all of its Public Information Officers (PIOs), to make public, the names of all such charitable organisations and entities, on their websites. The latest order by the CBDT in May 2016, is a sequel to a complaint filed by Right to Information (RTI) activist and scholar Venkatesh Nayak, directing initiation of action. 
 
The CBDT orders states, “In view of the fact that the orders of the CIC are binding under the RTI Act, 2005 unless stayed or reversed by higher courts, I am directed to convey that suitable instructions may be issued to all the concerned authorities / officers / CPIOs to ensure that the orders passed by CIC in appeals and complaints under the RTI Act, 2005 are invariably complied with…, unless they are stayed or reversed by higher courts. Any deviation will be viewed adversely.”
 
Elaborating the ramification of this order, Nayak says, “Apart from the fact that the CBDT has acted promptly to issue an omnibus directive seeking compliance with all CIC orders for disclosing information that have attained finality, the specific category of information that Rakesh Agarwal (the original applicant) wanted disclosed have a direct connect with Section 4(1)(b) of The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). 
 
“The 2010 decision of CIC's Full Bench requires the disclosure of the identity of all charitable trusts/institutions and entities that have received tax exemption under Section 10, 11 and 12 of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
 
“Section 10, relates to:
Income that is not taxable under the law such as agricultural income
Interest earned by non-resident Indians who have invested in such notified government securities and bonds
Income earned by foreign diplomats by way of salary etc. during their posting in India
Payments received in commutation of pension by former employees of the Central government and the defence forces
Earned leave encashment received by government employees upon retirement
Compensation received by workmen under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947,
Golden handshake received by voluntarily retiring employees of governments
Public sector companies, cooperative societies and such other bodies listed in that section
Sums received under Keyman Insurance policy and a host of other grounds for claiming exemptions”
 
Section 11 of the Income Tax Act relates to tax exemption for income from property held for charitable or religious purposes. 
 
Section 12 of the Income Tax Act relates to income of trusts or institutions created for wholly charitable or religious purposes from contributions received which is also exempt from the payment of any tax, subject to conditions of course.’’
 
Way back in March 2010, a full Bench of the CIC had directed the I-T Department that “Needless to say, avowed purpose for which these institutions or entities come into existence is charity. Charity and secrecy are contradiction in terms. Any charitable institution should have no secrets and should be open to public for all purposes, including its finances. In other words, in our opinion, it will be in the larger public interest if the identity of the charitable trusts/institutions/entities which are granted exemption from income tax under the statutory provisions are placed in the public domain.”
 
“Hence, in exercise of powers under Section 25(5) of the RTI Act, we hereby recommend that the identity of the charitable trusts/institutions/entities which have been granted exemption from income tax under Section 10 & under Section 11/12 of the Income Tax Act is placed in public domain by way of suo motu disclosure by the CBDT in terms of section 4(1)(b) r/w section 4(2) of the RTI Act,” the CIC had said.
 
The CBDT officers sought reasonable time in this regard as they said that the task was of high magnitude and so sought eight months.
 
Thereafter, there has been repeated non-compliance of the I-T Department with the orders of the CIC.
 
In April 2013, a single Bench issued the following direction in that case: 
“…the Commission directs Ms Deepshikha Sharma, PIO/ Deputy Secretary, ITAI, CBDT, New Delhi, to ascertain the factual position about the implementation of the above decision and send a report to the Commission within four weeks of receipt of this order.” 
 
Later in December 2015, another single Bench of CIC took notice of the non-compliance of the I-T Department regarding the full Bench direction of March 2010 and directed the appellant as follows: “As stated by the CPIO, he should write to the CIT (Exemption) Chandigarh for compliance of CIC order dated 9 March 2010 [file no. CIC/LS/A/2009/00190- R. Agarwal vs Income Tax Department] at the earliest.” 
 
In January this year, yet another order from the single Bench of CIC says, “…the CPIOs are directed to provide list of charitable trusts/institutions/entities which have been granted exemption from income tax under Section 10 & Section11/12 of the Income Tax Act for the years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, to the appellant within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order”.
 
In April 2016, once again the CIC directed the CBDT to comply with CIC decision. It will be interesting to see if the I-T Department pays any heed to CBDT directions and publishes names of entities enjoying tax exemption in public domain.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

MG Warrier

11 months ago

The veil of secrecy surrounding charitable organisations including religious places and spiritual leaders builds up suspicion in the minds of public. This results in gossips and speculations. Unscrupulous elements take advantage. To start with, those institutions/organisations which are in the limelight should on their own come out and make public their sources and uses of funds and subject their existing assets to transparent accounting and audit.

Brexit: Expect waves of contagion on Asia
Britain's decision to opt out of the European Union-EU (Brexit) has rattled markets across the world. With the Brexit result only a few hours old and the situation extremely fluid it is extremely difficult to forecast the economic and financial impact on Asia, however Nomura feels financial, confidence and psychology channels are likely to be more important than trade linkages during these times.
 
"We should not underestimate the global contagion of the Brexit outcome," Nomura said, adding, "At first glance it would seem that the financial and economic impact of this result should be largely confined to the UK, given that its economic size is quite small at less than 4% of world gross domestic product (GDP) and world imports in 2015. However, we believe that this is too simplistic of a view and that the impact of the Brexit will be far reaching and long lasting."
 
According to Nomura report, there are two reasons for this. One, it expects non-trivial spill over to the euro area economy and financial markets and second, Brexit could further inflame anti-EU sentiments. 
 
It says, "While the value of merchandise exports from the rest of the EU to the UK is only 3% of the rest of the EU’s GDP, the UK’s position as a global financial hub – UK financial sector assets account for more than eight times of its GDP – leaves the rest of the EU much more exposed to the UK in terms of financial and investment linkages, in part reflecting the UK’s relatively liberalised domestic market and its strong legal framework and institutions. For example, one-third of UK's financial and insurance services exports are to the EU. Also more than half of the UK banking sector's cross-border lending is directed towards the EU, while almost half of the foreign direct investment (FDI) received by the UK comes from the EU."
 
 
In addition, it says, Brexit could further inflame anti-EU sentiment in other EU member states, heightening fears of more countries opting to leave the union. "It is largely due to these non-trade-related channels that we expect a reduction in euro area GDP growth by 0.5 percentage points (pp) and a weaker EUR/USD.3 While UK share of global GDP is less than 4%, the rest of EU’s share is 18%, so once second-round effects on Europe are taken into account, the global impact is no longer trivial," it added.
 
Talking about the Brexit impact on India, Nomura says, as Indian economy is largely driven by domestic demand, the economic impact (of a Brexit) should be small relative to other open economies in Asia. “Still, India is not immune, as it has strong trade linkages with the EU and is susceptible to a loss of business confidence and a potential tightening of financial conditions. In our view, any adverse impact could be partly cushioned by upcoming domestic impulses to growth such as good monsoons, pay commission hikes and a likely easing of policies (both monetary and fiscal) but, nonetheless, we expect the growth recovery to slow.”
 
Nomura thinks a globally coordinated central bank response to a global financial market meltdown is quite likely, such as liquidity support through forex (FX) swap arrangements and possible FX intervention. But with policy credibility at such a low it is unclear how successful these emergency measures would ultimately be when there is extreme market risk aversion, it added.
 
On the Brexit result, Nomura says it has tentatively lowered its aggregate 2016 GDP growth forecast for Asia ex-Japan to 5.6% from 5.9%. The largest percentage point (pp) downgrades are for Hong Kong (1.0pp) and Singapore (0.7pp), followed by Taiwan (0.6pp), Thailand (0.5pp) and Malaysia (0.4pp). At the other end of the spectrum, Nomura says it has lowered its 2016 GDP growth forecast by only 0.2pp for Australia, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
 
 
Nomura also expects significantly more monetary policy easing in Asia. It says, dovish central banks, a weak growth outlook and a dovish Fed are bullish for most Asia rates. 
 
"Between now and year-end, we expect the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut by 25 basis points (bp) from no cut previously, Korea by 50bp (25bp previously), Indonesia by 50bp (25bp), Taiwan by 50bp (37.5bp), Thailand by 50bp (50bp), Malaysia by 25bp (no cut previously). For China we have increased the number of RRR cuts by year-end from two to three, in addition to one interest rate cut. The only Asian central bank that we expect to keep rate on hold is in the Philippines. We now expect the Monetary Authority of Singapore to re-centre the mid-point of the S$NEER policy band lower at, or before, its October policy meeting," it added.
 
Talking about the economic implication on UK, the report says, the impact (of Brexit) is likely to be prolonged rather than short term. It said, "The uncertainty over the future of the UK means investors can be expected to demand a higher risk premium for holding UK assets, which coupled with the need to finance a 7%-of-GDP current account deficit, should result in a large – and persistent – depreciation of pound." 
 
"Beyond the trade channel, once financial, confidence and psychology channels are taken into account, we caution not to underestimate the depth and reach of financial market contagion to Asia," it concluded.  
 

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

11 months ago

well said!Now Rexit will be more painful.............

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