Roof Over The Head : A Life Of Dignity And Respect

By – Mohak Bhasin

A 1974 film rocked the cinemas and became the highest grossing film of the year. Directed and starring Manoj Kumar, the film is ‘Roti Kapada Aur Makaan’. It pricked the audience’s nerves and conveyed the message of how lack of basic necessities may force a person to mend the right and honest ways to continue on a dishonest path. 

Makaan or shelter, has always been one of the basic needs for any organism present in this world, be it lions in caves or symbiotes in the host’s body. From time immemorial, humans have found shelter in caves, under trees, houses, etc. The Harappan Civilisation in the Indus Valley is the oldest civilisation found on Earth. The most unique part of civilisation is the layout of the city. The design of the lanes and houses for inhabitants is the most intriguing discovery for the archaeologists.

A roof over one’s head is a status symbol for some, while for some the mere presence of a roof is important. It gives a sense of protection and fulfilment to the inhabitants. The presence of night shelters fulfil this need for the road side dwellers. Many who migrate from villages to the commercial hubs of the nation due to low income and high expenses start to live in slums.

Slums provide the needed shelter but are unable to provide the basic amenities needed to survive in that atmosphere. The filthy conditions present there not only affect them physically, but also deteriorate their mental health. having the most detrimental effect on the children living there.

In-Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project

The Government of India has given utmost importance to clear the slum dwelling and provide a clean and safe environment to the inhabitants. One such step taken is the inauguration of 3024 flats in Kalkaji on 2nd November 2022 in Vigyan Bhawan under the ‘In-Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project’. 

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi handed over the keys to the eligible house owners of Bhoomiheen Camp. The colony is an attempt to provide slum dwellers a life of equal opportunities. The colony has almost all civic amenities that can be found in any other private establishment. It includes lifts, electric substations, community parks, sewage treatment plants, underground reservoirs for hygienic water supply. Cleanliness has been given high priority, and the PM also requested the new inhabitants to keep their surroundings clean, as to break the age-old misconception of slums being associated with filth. The allotment of homes provides ownership title to the inhabitants and a sense of security to the residents.

This event marked the completion of the first phase of Kalkaji Extension. The second phase under the initiative would start after the inhabitants of Bhoomiheen Camp will be rehabilitated in their homes. Post vacation of the Bhoomiheen Campsite, the vacated site will be utilised to construct houses and rehabilitate dwellers in Navjeevan Camp and Jawahar Camp. The aim of the central government is to convert Delhi into a grand city complete with all amenities for all the residents that are in accordance with the status of the capital of the country.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna was launched in 2015, with the mission to achieve ‘Housing For All’. The scheme provides interest subsidy on housing loans to the beneficiaries of the scheme. It provides an interest subsidy of 6.5% (for EWS and LIG), 4% (for MIG- I) and 3% (for MIG- II) on housing loans. The beneficiary would be provided this subsidy for a period of 20 years under credit link subsidy scheme (CLSS) from the time the loan starts.

Till today 700 crores has been spent on providing subsidies for constructing their own houses. A total of 93,13,124 house construction has been undertaken in the first phase (2016-17 to 2018-19) and 74,01,269 in the second phase (2019-20 to 2021-22).

Critical Analysis and Comparison of The Two Policies

“Housing For Everyone” is the mission of both the policies but having land for all to build their respective houses is something not possible. As metro cities develop and become the hub for migration, the land available for building accommodations will reduce. 

As PMAY injects money in people’s pockets, it increases many points of concern. It is a general tendency of individuals to construct a house, with the land and roof both in their possession. So, as more and more people in lower income groups are provided with money to build their individual houses, the land available near the industrial establishments would also reduce. Thus, migrators will find it lucrative to get shelter in slum areas as they are near the industrial area and cost of living will be low.

Quality of construction is also a major concern, i.e., whether proper attention has been paid to the wiring, architecture, and basic amenities like sanitation room, clean drinking water connections etc. are provided or not. As more and more people are employed in the construction business, the quality of construction also decreases. It might so happen that beneficiaries of policy try to build these accommodations by themselves (to cut the cost). This will not only increase the risk posed to their family but also to nearby dwellers.

The Kalkaji project also has some major concerns related to the financing of the project. If governments spend a major amount of their capital budget on building these houses, without any source of generating revenue through them, then the policy won’t be sustainable for long run. Though it helps in solving the problem of shrinking land area and quality of houses, complete burning of funds might not be a justified solution.

A Better Policy Solution

It is common to find cases wherein the beneficiary of government houses, sell their allotted accommodations to others and use it as a source of income for themselves. They shift back to slum areas and make a new dwelling in the filthy conditions.

So we have to find a solution which not only solves the problem of providing housing facilities, but also ensures general acceptability. Following are suggestions for a policy that can be adopted for achieving the objective of “Housing For Everyone”:

1. A locality should be first selected and a general census of them should be conducted. According to it, the number of families should be identified. Accordingly, the plan of the new locality should be laid down.

2. Then a financial plan should be prepared for the same. The amount of finance should be disclosed to the families. A very small EMI (zero interest) system should be drafted accordingly. 

3. All the terms related to the policy should then be disclosed and shared with them. A legal document should be drafted wherein, the full EMI amount is paid by the beneficiaries and the house will be transferred in their name.

4. In the initial stage they won’t have the house in their name, so renting or selling the house to others won’t be possible.

5. The policy might also be generally accepted as the beneficiaries would just have to pay the principal amount and also at a very small instalment.

6. The policy will also be beneficial for the authorities as a source of revenue to reach the break even point will be prepared. It will also ensure the quality of construction is maintained. Following the other provisions mentioned, will help in ensuring that the beneficiaries live in the houses and just don’t use it as a source of revenue  for themselves.


1. Beneficiaries under PMAY-G. (n.d.).

2. PM inaugurates 3024 newly constructed flats at Kalkaji, Delhi under ‘In-Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project.’ (n.d.).