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17 Jul 2020

Rina Chandran, Thomson Reuters Foundation

India: Govt. to develop affordable rental housing for migrant workers to encourage their return to cities following mass exodus

"India plans rental homes to entice migrant workers back to cities", 18 July 2020

India has approved a plan to develop affordable rental housing for migrant workers after millions of labourers fled the nation’s cities for villages amidst coronavirus lockdowns that left many of them without jobs and homes.

The scheme, part of a federal housing project aimed at providing housing for all by 2022, aims to convert existing vacant government housing into affordable rental housing complexes (ARHC). Private developers can also participate.

The programme will benefit about 300,000 workers initially, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive reverse migration of workers and urban poor who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better employment opportunities in urban areas,” the ministry said in a statement..

The Indian plan, announced initially in May as part of a coronavirus stimulus package, will offer subsidised loans, tax incentives and additional floor space allowances to developers...

...The Housing for All scheme aims to create 20 million new urban housing units and 30 million rural homes. Land rights groups have said the plan’s focus on ownership excludes the homeless and the urban poor, including migrants.

But S. Irudaya Rajan, a professor at the Centre for Development Studies, said rental housing alone would not be enough to entice back millions of migrant workers who were forced to walked hundreds of miles to homes in distant villages after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24...