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Habitat

Building an Abode of Happiness

The lack of a proper habitat impacts all other aspects of development namely health, education, gender equality, ecology and social integration. When provided with basic human requirements of shelter, water, electricity and drainage, communities are able to break the cycle of poverty and resist the lure of urban migration.

HABITAT PROGRAMMES

Housing

Public Utility Buildings

Rural Infrastructure

RDT Infrastructure

The rural poor in India are mostly comprised of marginalised communities such as Dalits, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Communities and Persons with Disabilities. Social and cultural taboos have alienated them from the wave of development that the country is riding. As a result, these communities have either been uprooted from their traditional habitat, or been relegated to areas where they cannot find sustenance. Most poor settlements in the early 1970s comprised of mud huts with thatched roofs, had poor sanitation, lack of a readily-accessible water source and therefore generally poor hygiene conditions and sanitation. More so, villagers frequently had incursions of scorpions and snakes into their dwellings.

OBJECTIVES

The government has been admirable in trying to house and provide social security to its most marginalised citizens. But information about the schemes and the eligibility criteria to avail them has been patchy and often does not reach the poorest of settlements where their need is most dire. There are government provisions under the Andhra Pradesh Housing Corporation Ltd. that now provide 872 sq. ft. (2 cents) land patta (title) to each person Below Poverty Line (BPL).


However, the houses are meant to be constructed by the people, while the government periodically reimburses them through the course of the construction. The shortfalls of this system are manifold - most of these people are extremely poor, and for them to arrange a capital to build the house is nearly impossible. Most resort to debts from richer landlords in hopes of getting the money spent reimbursed, but red-tapism or policy changes across departments mean that reimbursements are almost always delayed. Indebted and now unable to repay the loan they’ve taken, the entire family comes under severe economic and psychological distress.


The reimbursement slab set for construction of each of these houses was, until recently, approximately 50% of the cost incurred. Even if in some cases a person does manage to get the funds, they are never enough to take care of the total amount spent. In addition, government interventions are often delayed and fall short of the actual requirement. And finally, there is no technical information or support provided regarding the subject of construction methods, dos and don’ts.


So a primary role of RDT is to act as a bridge between government bodies and the rural poor and help them understand the schemes and allotments available to them. This applies not only to individual projects but also for community-based projects, bridges, roads etc. We started by constructing houses with proper ventilation, drainage facilities, and easy access to water. The seemingly simple act of moving into a new, owned house allayed the villagers’ fears, improved their health and increased their productivity. The resulting economic stability helped children attend school and in due course of time the community’s socio-economic status improved. Moreover, in the year 1995-96, RDT empowered women by registering each house built in their name - a practice that even the government, under Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, adopted while allocating lands.


Prior to RDT’s interventions, many villages did not even have a common building, let alone a school with many of the school classes being conducted at temples. From 1978 onwards, with the help of donor agencies, many school-cum community halls were constructed. RDT also constructs additional classrooms in government schools, hostels, libraries, hospitals, rural clinics, vocational training centres, residential schools, field offices, and staff quarters. RDT ensures that the built structures are habitable by providing drinking water, installing water purification plants and constructing roads and causeways. As an additional mandate however, the sector also conducts reconstructions after natural or man-made disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis or war.

TIMELINE

ED’s MESSAGE

We work towards improving the access of rural poor to self-owned homes.

HABITAT DIRECTOR’s MESSAGE

RDT’s habitat programmes for infrastructure development serve people from

WAY FORWARD

Building habitats for a better future

RDT has resolved that the rural poor will improve their quality of life through access to permanent shelter and to basic community infrastructure to cater for their socio-economic, educational and developmental needs.

In order to meet this goal, RDT has planned to take some major steps in this direction of habitat and infrastructure development. RDT will strive to build 4000 houses per year with active community engagement, and whenever feasible, in collaboration with the government. Every house will be in the name of a woman, or that of a PWD, increasing their assets and socio-economic prospects, eventually empowering them both in the family and society.

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