Homing in

Homing in "You couldn't do anything that would give a villager greater satisfaction than giving him a house," said the Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao, speaking at the valedictory session of the National Consultation on Rural Housing - Enhancing Capacity for People's Participation and Technology Transfer held in New Delhi from May 30-31. The Consultation was called by the Council for the Advancement for People's Action and Rural Technology (capart).

After 2 days of discussions, the Consultation came up with a set of 20 recommendations, which stressed the need for greater co-ordination. It called for the establishment of micro-enterprises for producing building materials, programmes for upgrading artisans' skills, and also for a greater role for capart in developing linkages between voluntary agencies and the government. N K Jain, Convenor of the Joint Action Centre, a Gurgaon-based ngo, while agreeing that issues like provision of drinking water, sanitation, transport for all settlements, should have been discussed, felt that this was not the right forum for it.

The meeting was called ostensibly to determine major building systems and materials for use in the construction of rural habitats, and to establish mechanisms of funding. But social activist Jai Sen, once closely associated with the National Campaign for Housing Rights, says, "The pm was going through a bad patch politically. Hence the 1 million houses scheme costing Rs 1,000 crores, to boost his image. capart has organised this only for a larger slice of the Rs 1,000 crores cake."

Said Mohar Singh, Deputy Director (Housing) in the ministry of rural areas and employment (formerly ministry of rural development), says the recommendations would be implemented "if they are worth it".

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