National Rural Habitat Policy

A house with basic amenities of water, sanitation and domestic energy, offering a sense of privacy, safety and dignity is the right of every individual in society. Facilities of education, health and child care, and special opportunities for income generation are
essential to the growth and well being of a productive society, and form a part of human habitat.

It is thus the responsibility of a society to ensure that basic human rights and equity of opportunities for growth are available to all citizens. As a nation, we give our selves “policies” to create conditions that cause the realisation of rights and equitable access to
opportunities for all.

The National Habitat Policy over the decades, has sought to achieve the aim of “adequate habitat (shelter) for all”. It has undergone many revisions to suit national priorities and changing macro - social and economic conditions. The last National Habitat Policy of 1998, although comprehensive, could not provide adequate direction especially to rural areas in the absence of a
focus on the distinct concerns and needs of these areas. The new ‘Draft National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy’ attempts to tackle urban habitat issues. The country now needs a ‘Rural Housing and Habitat Policy’ based on the “special character”, priorities and potential of rural India in order that Rural Habitat concerns are adequately and realistically addressed.

Considering its backward – forward linkages to the overall economy, it is essential that rural habitat development be seen in the context of rural poverty alleviation. The Bharat Nirman Program and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) are steps in this direction. In order that positive movements are reinforced and “people’s” investments are harnessed towards an
integrated rural development process, it is essential that we give ourselves a National Rural Habitat Policy that will promote conditions to facilitate the creation of sustainable habitat and livelihood in rural areas.

basin-South Asia Regional Knowledge Platform (basin-SA) has undertaken a small initiative to bring together ideas, opinions and successful methodologies of different
stakeholders to inform the development of the ‘National Rural Housing and Habitat Policy’. The dialogue was triggered by research and documentation supported by the Building and Social Housing Foundation, UK and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. In this process, intensive research and consultations with practitioners and policy makers across the country were carried out to form an understanding of rural conditions, strengths, needs and potential for large scale development of
habitat and livelihoods in rural areas. The process resulted in the development of a “Framework for a Rural Habitat Policy for India” and has further motivated basin-SA to initiate a country wide process of engaging different stakeholders for developing a draft of the Rural Habitat Policy – as it should be and proposing it to the Government of India. As a first step, a consultation was
organised on 23rd February 2006 in New Delhi by Akhil Bhartiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan, facilitated by basin-SA and supported by DFID’s Poorest Areas Civil Society Program. The consultation brought together NGOs, bankers and government functionaries to discuss, debate and propose clauses for the policy document.

This document is the first draft of the policy developed through this process to serve as a trigger for discussion on policy clauses and provisions with a wider audience. It draws heavily from the ‘Draft National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy’ (2005) and attempts to connect the policy
on urban areas with rural areas.

The process of policy development is now being taken to all the States in the country for consultation. Inputs from each State Level Consultation will be incorporated at each step as the process continues, to culminate as ‘Final Draft of the Rural Habitat Policy for India’ - a proposal to the Government by the people of India.

Architecture & Development, in collaboration with basin-SA has committed to taking up the task of organizing the State Level Consultation for drafting the Rural Habitat Policy for Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry, under the RDC program along with its partners Centre for Education &
Documentation (CED), Institute for Social Education & Development (ISED), and PRAXIS.

National Rural Habitat Policy - An Important Milestone !

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Report of the Regional Level Cosultation held at Myiladuthurai in Nagapattinam District on 25th January 2007

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Report of the Regional Level Consultation held in Erode on 31st January 2007

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Report of the Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh State Consultation held in Chennai on 5th and 6th February 2007

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