Complete on paper, half-built on ground
By Anuraag Singh | Published: 02nd December 2017 11:44 PM |
BHOPAL: It was on April 1, 2016 that the Narendra Modi government restructured Indira Awas Yojana into Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) to address gaps in the existing rural housing programme in view of the government’s commitment to provide housing for all by 2022.
However, in the Naxal-affected Balaghat district of the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the PMAY-G seems to be working more on paper than on ground.
Social activist Vivek Pawar, who works with the tribal population in Mandla and Balaghat districts, recently pointed out to officials in Balaghat that incomplete houses in several villages of Baihar development block are shown as complete on paper.
“Around 1,600-plus beneficiaries were selected for being covered under this housing scheme in villages of Baihar development block. The houses, for which the administration has already released money to the beneficiaries, were to be completed by December end. But in a haste to show that the target had been achieved, hundreds of houses have been shown as complete in both online and offline government data despite these houses remaining incomplete,” said Pawar, who works with the Samajik Karyakartajan Sangarsh Morcha.
From Ukwa Pondi village panchayat at one end of Baihar development block to Pandutala village panchayat at the other end, hundreds of houses remain incomplete, Pawar alleged.
“Not only have these incomplete houses been shown as complete in records, government grants worth over `1 lakh for each of them have already been released,” he said.
Some houses are yet to get the final layer of plaster, while for several others, the foundation have not been laid until the end of October 2017.
In Kukarra village panchayat’s Katang Tola, the houses of beneficiaries Nainsingh and Kastura Bai is far from complete, but in official data it features among the completed houses, claimed Pawar, who has travelled extensively through several villages to take stock of the situation regarding these houses.
In Pondi village, all three instalments have been released by the authorities by showing 25 houses as complete, despite only around eight houses have actually been completed. This has happened when the Baihar block panchayat has claimed to have physically verified 13 houses on the ground, added Pawar.
“Out of the 1,600-plus houses in Baihar development block, government records recently showed that 730-plus houses had been completed, but our field visit to many villages of Baihar block has shown that only a few dozen houses can actually be categorized as completed,” he said.
With the houses left unfinished, some beneficiaries are using them to store scrap and waste, and even using them as makeshift animal sheds. “Lilawati of Kukarra village uses her house as a cowshed as the house largely remains incomplete,” said Pawar.
Hatta village panchayat, located on the Balaghat-Mandla border, comprises three villages, Hatta, Dudwa and Sanjari. A total of 93 beneficiaries are registered in the three villages, but surprisingly, over 70 of these beneficiaries are residents of Sanjari. In another village of the same gram panchayat, out of the 17 beneficiaries, two are closes relatives of the deputy village sarpanch,” he claimed.
Last Thursday, the issue was brought before the Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister Gopal Bhargava in Bhopal by some scribes. “I don’t who is the kalakar (actor) behind such developments on the ground. Since you are telling us about it, I’ll order a probe and get results in 24 hours,” said Bhargava.
When contacted on the matter recently, Balaghat District Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Manjusha Rai confirmed that a few cases of houses being incomplete had come to light, after which they had been completed. “We’ve issued show cause notices to the officials concerned and action will be taken against them,” Rai said on Friday.
According to official sources, Pushpendra Vyas, chief executive officer of Baihar janpad panchayat, which is part of Balaghat district panchayat, recently sought explanations from sub engineers, panchayat coordinating officers, panchayat secretaries and rozgar sahayaks over reports of incomplete houses being shown as completed in government data.