KOLKATA: The state government directed all district administrations to re-start the work of constructions of houses for the poor under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, with a warning to the local administration to be vigilant on the cut-money issue.
Constructions of houses were stopped before the Lok Sabha polls but the work did not start even after the election result was announced because of the cut money controversy that triggered a series of demonstrations and protests by beneficiaries of the said scheme.
“Most of the complaints of cut-money came from the beneficiaries of housing for the poor scheme. This time government officials working in local administrations have been asked to keep a close watch to ensure no one extorts money from the poor beneficiaries,’’ said an official of the state panchayat department.
The Union Rural Development ministry sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore to the West Bengal government and asked them to construct 8.3 lakh houses within the present financial year.
Under the scheme, a poor beneficiary receives a grant of Rs 1.2 lakh. The sum is `1.3 lakh though, for those who are living in Jungle Mahal area. The Centre gives 60% of the grant while the rest is provided by the state.
According to socio-economic caste census, more than 38 lakh families in West Bengal do not have a concrete roof over their heads.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the scheme with the goal to construct 20 million houses with concrete roof for all poor families by the year 2022.
“More than 14 lakh houses have already been constructed in the state. We will have to construct more than 24 lakh houses within next three years. Five months of the present fiscal have already gone by. We asked the district administrations to take prompt measures to meet this financial year’s target,’’ said an official of the state panchayat department.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) was launched by the Centre to boost affordability of houses against a highly inflated real-estate sector.
Tops cops issues new directives
Days after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed concern over bribe collection by police and civic volunteers from motorists in the name of checking, the state director general of police issued directives to all police stations and traffic guards’ offices.
In his instruction, Virendra, the DGP, asked police heads in the districts not to engage civic volunteers on checking drive on national highways.
The officer also said officers of deputy superintendent of police or additional superintendent of police would conduct surprise checking to find whether directives were being followed.