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e-Housing for India's underserved communities


16 January 2012

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The e-Housing scheme in the Indian state of Kerala ensures hassle free and transparent disbursement of pro-poor funds for the scheduled caste population.

Although the constitution of India entitles people belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) category to certain benefits for their upliftment, they still lack access to proper education, good health employment opportunities and basic housing facilities.

Local governments in most states in India have initiated several pro-poor programmes to provide them a decent standard of living. One such intervention is the e-Housing project in Kerala designed to ensure transparency and efficiency in giving housing allowance to people from the scheduled castes.

Launched in February 2011, the web based e-housing solution became fully operational in April 2011, for the timely disbursement of housing assistance to all scheduled caste beneficiaries in Kerala.

It offers provision for making online application, processing and sanction of housing assistance, also known in Malayalam, Bhavna Nirmana Dhanasahayam Scheme. 

The system was launched by the Scheduled Caste Development Department (SCDO) of Kerala in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) to ensure time-bound, efficient, transparent and error-free housing applications. To date, 1423 houses for the target group have been completed.

A total of 2000 beneficiaries have opened postal savings bank and an amount of Rs 5 crores has been disbursed through the system.

Prior to the project implementation, the scheduled caste community faced delays in receiving disbursements from the government. The procedures were complex and there was no option to track applications.

As a result, beneficiaries had to skip several days of work and physically visit the department to request for funds at different stages of construction. It was a waste of time and effort. In addition, there was no transparency as to how much amount was being released in their account. In order to benefit this target group, the government introduced a web based solution to overcome these challenges.

The e-Housing project has completely changed the disbursement for housing constructions' scenario in the department. The beneficiaries feel confident as this service is extended exclusively for their needs. It has sped up application processing and sanctioning of disbursements so that beneficiaries can make payments and build houses on time.

The application processing time has reduced drastically to one third of the time taken earlier in the manual system.

The beneficiaries can monitor the status of their applications and fund details by logging in to the system from anywhere. All transactions are further monitored by the Directorate of SCDO, and therefore inappropriate means are reduced.

The department has decided to increase the amount from 1 to 2 lakhs from next year. For replication in other departments and states, the requisite factors are a trained team to build an online system and committed officials determined to benefit the weaker sections of society.

 
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