Construction of houses for nearly 25 percent beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin scheme has been stalled indefinitely in Gangavathi taluk. Villagers, who are enlisted to get the money for the country’s flagship scheme have no clue where their fate lies.
By Ritam Chatterjee
Savitri Amma and her 70-year-old husband Anjinappa live in a small space made of tin at Udamkal village in Venkatagiri Gram Panchayat. They are not able to go outside and work for somebody to get some amount of money for their living. They don’t have any separate toilets as well. All they need is to have a house where they can fit comfortably no matter what it is made of. But, since her name was listed in January 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin scheme, she is yet to receive the financial assistance by the government to construct their house.
“We do not have any child who can help us financially at this stage. As a BPL card holder, my husband gets some amount of money on a monthly basis from the local panchayath (National Old Age Pension Scheme) which helps to live our daily lives. When will we get the money to complete the house and live with comfort in the last phase of our lives?” asked Savitri.
Vidyavathi, Panchayath Development Officer (PDO) of Venkatagiri Gram Panchayat in Gangavathi taluk admitted that like Savitri, they are getting complaints for the last six months from many villagers because they have not been paid to construct their houses. “Usually, it takes ten to twelve months to get Rs. 1,48,000 in four installments (37,000 in each phase), but the scenario has changed from last year,” she said.
“This (to offer money to the villagers) is not in our hands. We are hearing from the taluk office that the government has recently started giving compensation to the people of Karnataka who are affected by the flood in August last year. So, they are not able to provide more money to them whom they promised to give earlier under this scheme,” she added.
The data gave by Ravi, the computer operator of Venkatagiri Gram Panchayat states that 99 beneficiaries have been selected for constructing their houses in their Panchayath between 2016-2020, out of which 16 of them have got a total amount of money.
The problem of pending house constructions assisted by the government is common in the entire Gangavathi taluk. The data released by the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Committee shows that 210 out of 869 houses for the shortlisted beneficiaries’ houses under the PMAY-G scheme has not been started yet in that area.
Sashikala, another selected beneficiary under the scheme, is waiting for 14 months now since her name has been listed to get the benefits. “We didn’t have the opportunity to educate ourselves. If the local panchayath asks us to put a thumb impression on any documents, we do it without checking,” she added.
Started in April 2016, the PMAY-G scheme is one of two policy initiatives by the Central Government of India which generates affordable housing in the country. The mission aims to address the housing requirements for the citizens in rural areas, especially in the financially backward sections.
With a large sum of money involved in the PMAY-G scheme, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi assured that the housing provision will be free from middlemen and corruption aimed to provide “housing for all” in rural India by 2022. But even after almost four years since the scheme was announced, the implementation of houses in rural areas seems to be falling far behind its target, many of them still waiting.
From 1st April 2016, since the ‘Indira Awas Yojana’ was re-structured into PMAY – G, the unit assistance has been increased year by year. The minimum size of the house has also been increased from 20 sq.mt to 25 sq.mt, along with a separate toilet.
Kotrayya, a housing department caseworker from Gangavathi taluk office, said, “Usually after shortlisting the names of beneficiaries by the Rural Housing Committee, the beneficiaries start to get financial assistance within a month to construct their houses. We did not receive any latest notification from the state government, but we are expecting to fix this issue as fast as we get to know the solution from the higher authorities.”
Apart from the construction, the local governing bodies block the housing schemes for the beneficiaries in many cases. “Sometimes, once the family members’ names are selected, they start buying bikes or other luxurious elements with that money. If our supervisors find out, we have to block those families from the beneficiaries’ list. Till now, we’ve blocked 253 beneficiaries’ houses across 42 Panchayath and 167 villages in Gangavathi taluk,” he added.
The latest data from the Ministry of Rural Development states that the central government has spent Rs.91,710 crore on this scheme from April 1, 2016, to March 2019, and, they are expecting to spend Rs.76,500 crore to build 60 lakh houses in India from April 2019 to December 2022. In its union budget for 2020-21, the central government has allocated Rs 10,000 crore towards the scheme to construct houses across the country but no separate allocation has been mentioned in different states of the country.
Meanwhile, the union budget 2020-21 has seen the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry expenditure touch around Rs 50,000 crore, a nearly twenty percent increase from the revised estimate of Rs 42,000 crore for last year. In 2020, the outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – G has been granted Rs 27,500 crore as against the revised estimates of Rs 25,000 crore in last year, nearly an 8.5 percent increase. So, whereas, the urban areas of the country are seeing a large percentage of increasing, rural India is being neglected under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
The PMAY-G website shows that a total of 1.39 crore homes have been sanctioned across the country between 2016-2020, out of which, 1.1 crore projects have been completed.
Last year, a news report stated that more than 161,000 potential beneficiaries did not get a house under the PMAY – G because either they were simply unwilling to get one or they could not get one due to ineligibility or misuse of the benefits. Major reasons cited by states for the phenomenon were beneficiaries unwilling due to personal reasons such as being single men or women aged above 65 years, financially poor, not wishing to construct a house, living in a sensitive area and hence they were unable to construct the house at present or have migrated. The highest number of pending beneficiaries under this scheme are in Andhra Pradesh (50,122), followed by Madhya Pradesh (41,058) and Maharashtra (19,594).
Anil Bhaskaran, an architect from IDEA Centre, Bengaluru, said, “There’s so much traffic in the past few years that it’s becoming normal nowadays to overlook peoples’ requirements who need the most. If the number of beneficiaries for certain government schemes is pre-decided for certain periods in different states by the ministry of rural development, people, as well as the local governing bodies, might not see the chaos in their respective areas.”
With a large number of beneficiaries’ house construction work still pending, Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister for Rural Development, said that the central government plans to construct 60 lakh houses this year and another 70 lakh and 65 lakh houses in 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively in all over the country.