Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah, at a poll rally in West Bengal's Baghmundi, made a slew of claims about the Centre's achievements. He credited the Modi government for:
- Giving 13 crore poor women gas cylinders
- Giving 2.5 crore poor people houses to live in
- Constructing more than 10 crore toilets in households
- Connecting more than 11 crore poor households to the electrical grid
- Providing health insurance to 60 crore poor people
All these figures are related to schemes the government has launched. So, FactChecker verified these claims with official data and found that three of the five claims are false.
Claim: 13 crore women given gas cylinders
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched in May 2016 to provide women belonging to families below the poverty line with concessional LPG connections. The scheme has been able to cater to 8 crore poor women and the beneficiaries have availed 1417.12 lakh free refills, read the response given by Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in Lok Sabha on March 17, 2021.
Although the government achieved its target much earlier than aimed, there has only been a 20% increase in the overall usage of clean cooking fuel, highlighted the National Family Health Survey 2019-20.
Claim: 2.5 crore poor people provided with houses to live in
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a housing scheme launched by the Centre, is aimed at providing affordable housing to urban and rural poor. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin is a rural housing scheme under Ministry of Rural Development and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) is taken care of by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
According to the data published by the ministries, the number of houses built under PMAY (Gramin) is 1.34 crore and for PMAY (Urban) it is 45.01 lakh till March 2021. This adds up to 1.79 crore and not 2.5 crore as Shah claimed.
"The low-income groups, who should be the actual beneficiaries of the scheme, are actually not gaining much. There is also a huge disparity in the price-to-income ratio, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. If a house is sold for Rs 15 lakh under the scheme, it is not affordable for a person from the lower-income bracket. So, most of these properties are bought by the people from middle- and high-income section," Rajneesh Sareen, Program Director of Sustainable Buildings and Habitat Programme at Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based non-profit, told FactChecker.
"Houses that are not getting sold are being pushed under the rental vertical of PMAY since they are lying unoccupied," added Sareen
He further explained that under the loan vertical of the scheme too, the claims for houses are being made by those from the higher-income bracket as the lower-income groups become automatically non-eligible for the loan as they are declared a non-performing asset by primary lending institutions. Subsidy is given only to them who have land documents/patta, said Sareen.
Claim: Built more than 10 crore toilets in households
But, a recent analysis by FactChecker had highlighted how numbers do not transpire into ground reality in this case.
"In 2018, the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan portal had declared high numbers. But when the verification was carried out on-ground, the number of households that had access to toilets was much lesser," Avani Kapoor, Director, Accountability Initiative, a wing that researches on accountability in governance within Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based non- profit, was quoted as saying in the report.
A World Bank research report titled 'Shifting Social Norms to Reduce Open Defecation in Rural India', also found that building toilets was not stopping Indians from resorting to open defecation.
Claim: Connected more than 11 crore poor households to the electrical grid
The rural electrification initiative called Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana-Saubhagya is aimed at providing 24x7 power for all by 2019 by providing electricity connection to each household across the country.
According to a response given in the Lok Sabha, since the launch of the scheme, 2.81 crore households have been electrified up to February 28, 2021, as opposed to 11 crores claimed by the Union minister. The scheme was launched in September 2017 so that the electrification project can be completed by December 2018, but it was extended till March 2019.
Another such LS response had shown that the number of un-electrified households stood at 3,20,422 as on August 31, 2020. These households mainly belong to Chhattisgarh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Claim: Provided health insurance to 60 crore poor people
Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) was launched to provide health assurance of up to Rs.5 Lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalisations. Since official data only mentions number of e-cards issued and not the beneficiaries, FactChecker analysed the available data to conclude that the number may be higher than Shah claimed.
The states and Union Territories implementing AB PM-JAY expanded the coverage of the scheme to include 13.13 crore families (65 crore people), according to an answer given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Lok Sabha on February 5, 2021.
In the answer, the ministry added that as on February 3, 2021, a total of 14.6 crore e-cards had been issued to the scheme beneficiaries.
"The Ayushman Bharat initiative has revolutionized the National Health Mission. The quality of medical treatment is higher and the health centres are now able to diagnose diseases like diabetes or hypertension. In many cases, the centres have been able to diagnose complex cases of cervical cancer too. Earlier, mostly these clinics dealt with cases of birth control, tubectomy and vasectomy," said Dr KR Antony, a Consultant on Public Health, Child Survival and Development in Kerala.