|Case Studies in Community-Based Credit Systems for Low-Income Housing (HABITAT, 1995, 63 p.)|
|III. PUNERVAAS HABITAT AND LIVELIHOOD MOVEMENT, DELHI, INDIA|
Punervaas:8 A Habitat Movement
Punervaas is a habitat movement which endeavours to bring together slum authorities, NGOs and financial institutions and other development authorities with the basic objective that the urban poor would help themselves improve their living conditions. It was registered as a non-profit society in June 1991. The proponents of the movement want it to act as catalyst in the process of formation of multi-purpose cooperatives with the help of NGOs. It would help improve upon the economic condition and habitat of slum dwellers by facilitating access to credit through the cooperatives. Further, it proposes to help the cooperative to draw up its plans for housing and income generation in order to enable members to build their own shelter and increase their incomes. Attempts will also be made to ensure that the maintenance of the so formed cooperative habitat is carried out by the cooperatives themselves. Education in terms of knowledge of cooperatives, social hygiene and health, etc., will also be provided with the help of NGOs, cooperative training Institutes and concerned developmental agencies of the Government. Technical education for developing certain skills could also be imparted through the cooperatives.
At the National Policy level in India, the policy has now shifted from slum eradication to slum - improvement. When slum improvement is not feasible, shifting to an alternative site into plot size of at least 30 sq. mtr. is required (with built-up accommodation on not less than 10 sq. mtrs.). The Urban Basic Service (UBS) programme, which has a Central budget allotment to covering 200 towns includes the Environmental Improvement of Slums (EIS) scheme. The UBS involves participative role and, as pointed out by the Report of the Urban Commission a National Programme cannot be mounted unless an institutional framework, broad and strong enough to bring citizens and serving agencies together to pool their resources and work in cooperation is created for achievement of what are essentially common goods. Punervaas is one such attempt. In addition, the New Deal for the Poor as recommended by the report of the National Commission on Urbanisation (NCU) it provides for a thirteen points package for intervention which includes (i) income and employment, (ii) basic services, (iii) shelter, (iv) public distribution, (v) social security and (vi) NGO Sector. It recommends an investment of Rs. 10,750 crore over 5 years and includes a sum of Rs. 6,000 crore to be advanced through re-lending priorities of the Financial Institutions. Punervaas attempts to offer a practical and viable solution to the issue of lending to the poor & and recovering.9
Evolving the Model
One of the issues that needs to be stressed is that Punervaas as a strategy or model emerged out of extensive discussions held with NGOs, government authorities, slum dwellers, financial institutions as well as practising politicians. While the aims of Punervaas were lofty, it changed its strategy and philosophy at every stage depending upon the current situation. For example, while Punervaas was in favour of in-situ development, it was Chief Secretary of Delhi who convinced the Punervaas members after discussions that existing squatters settlements on government land should be categorised in 3 categories i.e. first, lands where in-situ development is possible as the land is not required for any urgent public work. Second, land which is required for urgent public purpose like school, hospital etc. where the squatters will have to be shifted and finally, some areas of land which would be required for public purpose in the near future and therefore, in-situ development should not be encouraged. For the New Delhi Municipal Committee area slum clusters have already been identified into two categories; those which are to be shifted and those where upgrading can be done.