Govt clears affordable housing scheme, extends LPG, free grain benefits

The Cabinet also approved the Centre’s increased contribution for both employees and employers share (to 12 per cent from 10 per cent) under the Employees’ Provident Fund
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the development of affordable rental housing complexes (ARHCs) for urban migrants and poor as a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri (PM) Awas Yojana. This initiative was first announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat package in May.

The government also extended the dates of a number of announcements under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and Atmanirbhar Bharat, including increased pension fund contributions by the Centre, cooking gas beneficiaries under Ujjwala, and free foodgrain beneficiaries. 

“Existing vacant government-funded housing complexes will be converted into ARHCs through concession agreements for 25 years or special incentives will be offered to private/public entities to develop ARHCs on their own available vacant land for 25 years,” said an official statement after the Cabinet meeting.

It said that a large part of the workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, domestic/ commercial establishments, and construction or other sectors, labourers, and students, who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities will be the target beneficiary under ARHC, and that an outlay of Rs 600 crore will be utilised under the scheme. 

With the approval of the affordable housing scheme for migrants, the only major Atmanirbhar Bharat announcement not yet cleared by the Cabinet is the new privatisation policy. 

The Cabinet also approved the Centre’s increased contribution for both employees and employers share (to 12 per cent from 10 per cent) under the Employees’ Provident Fund, for another three months from June to August. The scheme till May was approved in April and announced by Sitharaman on May 13.  The total estimated expenditure is Rs 4,860 crore.

Free gas refill through direct benefit transfer for beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme was also extended till September for those who have had the credit amount transferred to their bank accounts.

The government has also extended distribution of free foodgrain like 1 kg chana per household and 5 kg rice or wheat per person (per month for both) till November. The extension had been announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address on June 30.

According to the government, it incurred an expenditure of Rs 44,131 crore for distributing grain under the first phase of the Garib Kalyan Yojana, which ran from April to June and through which around 12 million tonnes of wheat and rice were distributed for free to over 750 million beneficiaries.

Now that the Garib Kalyan Yojana has been extended for five more months, an additional subsidy of Rs 76,000 crore will have to borne by the government. The total subsidy implication will come to Rs 1.23 trillion.

If one includes the expenditure on pulses as well as foodgrain to migrant labourers, the estimated cost for distribution of foodgrain and pulses from April to November is estimated to be Rs 1.49 trillion.

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