Scores of people, who were moved to temporary shelters on the promise of being allotted a tenement in Nochikuppam under the World Bank Scheme, have been left high and dry as it has been revealed that the beneficiaries’ list has been tampered with.
The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has said that an inquiry has been going on to rectify the anomalies. “We are reviewing 56 allotments and will take a decision soon,” said a top official of the Slum Clearance Board, assuring transparency.
“There were some anomalies earlier. After I took charge, I went through the petitions and a probe is still on,” he said. Many of the earlier allotments were even cancelled by the Slum Clearance Board.
Many like Sundari and Sekhar, who were given a biometric card along with a letter from the Board, have been running from pillar to post. They were surprised to know that their name did not figure in the final list of beneficiaries. When CE contacted the officials, they claimed the names might have been cancelled.
“But how can officials cancel the allocation when they themselves have provided a biometric card. We are puzzled,” said the couple, who sell vegetables on the roadside. However, a senior Slum Clearance Board official assured that he would look into the issue and set things right. “It is an irony that the original beneficiaries, who have been evicted from the slums with the promise of tenements, and being provided biometric cards and a letter of undertaking, have been denied their right,” said R Anbuvendan, coordinator of the All Slum Residential Welfare Associations’ Federation.
There was also a mismatch between the names on the biometric cards and those in the list. Take the case of the couple Rukmani and David. In the tampered list, the name given is Rukmani and Devika. As such, the beneficiaries are unaware that they had been provided tenements.
“The first name may match, but then the second name has been changed, raising unanswered queries. Who will then be the beneficiary?” asked Anbuvendan. There are cases of a husband and wife being given separate tenements each.
“In many instances, the wife will claim the tenement, stating that her husband had eloped with another woman and the husband will claim a tenement giving a similar reason,” added sources in the TNSCB. “There were also instances of a brother and sister claiming a tenement, stating they are husband and wife,” they said.
Anbuvendan added it was surprising that the officials who had issued biometric cards to the beneficiaries, were beating around the bush and providing the tenements to those who were not the real beneficiaries.
“Why don’t they make allotments to the the actual beneficiaries who have been given biometric cards?” he asked.
There have also been allegations that money has been exchanged to get the tenements. However, officials denied this.
“The State Government has to probe this issue and punish the errant officials who are denying the poor their housing rights,” added Anbuvendan.