KOLKATA: In the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly elections with BJP emerging as the major opposition in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a new housing scheme 'Nijashree' where around 50,000 1-BHK and 2-BHK flats would be sold at a subsidised rate to state residents falling under a fixed income slab.
While 378 square foot sized 1-BHK flats would be sold at Rs 7.28 lakh, 559 square foot sized 2-BHK flats would be sold at Rs 9.26 lakh. The scheme would be open to people earning monthly salary between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000.
The five storied apartments would be established under the supervision of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Municipal Affairs and Urban Development (MA&UD) department, municipalities across the state and the development authorities.
However, there would be no lifts in the buildings. The 50,000 flats would be constructed over a period of two years and some land has already been identified for the flats. "This scheme is for the lower middle class. They would own the flats as legal possession documents would be provided to them," MA&UD minister Firhad Hakim said.
"The housing department will soon create a website where people can apply for housing. The people getting the flats would be chosen through a lucky draw. If rejected once, people can apply again but not if they have already been allotted a flat," he added. Political analysts believe that the scheme is targeted at the middle-class as a large section of them are fast switching loyalties to the BJP.
"Due to growing population, migration from neighbouring states, price rise with fixed land boundaries of the state, real estate has become a big headache for the urban middle-class in West Bengal. Though Mamata had paid attention towards the poorer sections through welfare schemes, she has hardly formulated any scheme exclusively for the middle-class which makes 'Nijashree' unique and shows the importance of middle-class electorate," political analyst Rajib Basu said.
"This scheme is likely to attract even those people in the urban middle-class who had accused her of minority appeasement and switched loyalties to the BJP to look for an 'alternative' that will take care of its needs. Though the number of flats are only 50,000 and beneficiaries may be only around 2-3 lakh people in a state of 9 crore, this scheme is going down to be symbolic and will be used in the Chief Minister's speeches to attract the middle-class votes in the run up to 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly elections," political observer Sayantan Bhowmick said.