The ruling government is pushing speedier completion of real estate, housing, and infrastructure projects to win the confidence of voters in the upcoming elections in five states and the General elections in 2024. In turn, the polls are providing a renewed push to these pivotal sectors which are major contributors to India’s GDP.
Vinod Behl

There has been a significant increase in spending on urban development by the Central government from 2015-16 onwards with government introducing several people-centric reforms and urban missions like PMAY-Housing for All, AMRUT, Swachh Bharat, universalisation of power and water, besides metro rail, RRTS, highways, regional airports connectivity, and other infra projects. There has been a 488% increase in MoHUA outlays from Rs 8,000 crore in 2009-10 to around Rs 4,70,000 crore in 2021-22.

Real estate, housing, and infrastructure projects

The results are evident: On the back of a capex push to infra by the Centre, rural road construction under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) overshot the target (106%) during April-June 2023. By July 2023, 47 E-ways with a combined length of 50,000 kms were operational and another 9,000 kms of highways were under construction. Metro connectivity rose from 229 km in 2014 to 850 km of operational metros and 1050 km under construction. Not just this, the government is also preparing to award new road projects totalling Rs 3 trillion for 10000 kms stretch before the General elections as the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) aims to complete 12500 km highway awards by end of FY24. There is a record allocation of Rs 2.7 trillion to MoRTH in the current fiscal.

Affordable housing forms a major part of the government’s social welfare schemes for the poor under PMAY. There is a report card of 3 crore urban and rural homes built by the government for showcasing to voters, with 80% houses owned by women who form a formidable vote bank. There was a 9-fold increase in the construction of affordable homes, up from 13.46 lakh in 10 years of UPA rule between 2004 and 2014 to 1.22 crore in BJP’s rule. This has been made possible by massive investment of over Rs 2 lakh crore made by the government in 8 years (a 10-fold increase of investment of Rs 20,303 crore made by the UPA government in 10 years). The total urban spend under all central schemes put together was Rs 1.57 lakh crore during the 10 years of UPA government compared to Rs 17 lakh crore during the 8 years of BJP rule.

The investment juggernaut rolls on: The government has increased the budget for rural housing under PMAY by 12% to Rs 54,487 crore. PMAY-U launched in 2015 has been extended to December 2024 in order to achieve the full target. Moreover, a new housing scheme has been announced for the benefit of weaker sections, under which, special interest rate relief on home loans will be provided to the poor. The election year budget (FY24) has a significant 33% plus YoY capital allocation with the proportion of capital expenditure going up from 12.3% in FY18 to 22.4% in FY24. Special assistance to states for capital investment (approved) reached Rs 84,884 crore by July 2023 with the disbursal of Rs 29,518 crore. The amount of central capex loan to states touched Rs 94k crore in H1 2023.

In this fiscal, as many as 100 big ticket infra projects of different ministries, worth Rs 5.89 lakh crore, have been recommended for approval under the PM Gati Shakti Scheme. In two years of its launch, the government has evaluated more than Rs 300 central and state projects worth Rs 11.58 lakh crore. Beating the poll deadline, a key infra project – the 1387 km long Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) from Punjab to Bihar – was completed by the government ahead of elections. The Centre is going to provide Rs 43000 crore funding push to the Eastern & Western Freight Corridors to meet the 54% cost escalation, with total cost reaching Rs 1.24 trillion.

Real estate, housing, and infrastructure projects

How crucial infra push is for the Government is also evident from the PM setting March 2024 as the deadline for all departments to set up mobile towers in all villages for achieving complete mobile phone coverage. Just a couple of months ahead of the state elections, 90 infrastructure projects of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) worth over Rs 2900 crore spanning 11 states and union territories were dedicated to the nation.

Even at the state level, the government is giving a big push to urban development. In Haryana, before the polls, the government has launched Mukhya Mantri Shahri Vikas Yojana, under which houses and plots will be made available to people belonging to the weaker sections. The state government has also announced the launch of city bus services in 9 new cities on the lines of Gurgaon and Faridabad to provide cheap and comfortable transport to the common man. These bus services will be made operational by the end of this fiscal before the Lok Sabha poll.

The Rs 10,000 crore+ Dwarka Expressway will also be inaugurated before the elections. The state government has also announced a new housing scheme to provide cheaper houses to vulnerable sectors of society. In order to provide relief to thousands of home buyers stuck in affordable housing projects, the Haryana government has announced that it will take effective steps to get stalled projects completed. Haryana has become the first state to launch 124 schools with upgraded infra under the PM Shri Programme.

In Madhya Pradesh, where BJP is contesting to retain power, the state government has been giving a big thrust to development of roads and power. This is clear from the annual expenditure for construction of new roads and bridges increasing 20 times to Rs 10000 crore and maintenance costs of existing roads going up 4 times. The budget for infra development has shot up to Rs 56256 crore in 2023-24, against Rs 3878 crore in 2002-03. The total length of state highways increased to 14587 km in 2022-23, up from 8728 km in 2002-03.

On the power front, the state government is flaunting MP as a power surplus state, making Asia’s largest 750 MW capacity solar park operational. The state government is also working on a plan to upgrade 30 small towns for socio-economic upliftment of residents. There is a big push for rail connectivity. Tail projects worth Rs 86000 crore are underway, besides development and redevelopment of 114 railway stations. Bhopal and Indore have a metro network of 30.95 km and 31.46 km, respectively. The MP government is rushing to start the Rs 44605 crore Ken-Betwa river linking project before the upcoming state polls.

The Congress-ruled states are also flaunting their urban development initiatives. The Rajasthan government is showcasing extension of Jaipur Metro Rail network; laying 1223 km of sewage lines in 31 cities and 35 sewage projects approved at a cost of Rs 5343 crore under AMRUT 2.0; and streamlining energy infra for domestic users and industries by replacing 1 lakh burnt and faulty transformers between April 2023 and September 2023. Tourism infra is also being revamped with the setting up of the Rajasthan International Centre in Jodhpur and another planned in Jodhpur, and developing the Chambal River Front in Kota.

The Congress government in Chattisgarh has been putting out full page ads about the state government’s efforts towards housing development. It has been publicising Awaas Nyay Sammelan organised in September in Bilaspur where approval letters were offered to 30000 beneficiaries of Mukhyamantri Gramin Awaas Nyay Yojna, besides disbursement of first instalment of Rs 25k to 1 lakh PMAY (Rural) beneficiaries. The government has also set up 300 industrial parks across 33 districts.

The UP government has approved infra development projects worth Rs 30000 crore for development of Ayodhya. These include a new airport and revamping of the railway station and bus terminals in Ayodhya. The state government is ensuring that all these development projects are completed by December 2023 to beat the general elections deadline. On the real estate and housing front, as a major initiative, a greenfield self-contained 1407-acre township is being developed.

Though it is to be seen how the election themes of infra, real estate and housing development play out against the more potent political issues during the polls, one thing is sure that people will be the ultimate gainers of the urban and rural developments.
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