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Rural home plan hits cash wall
- Indira Awas stalled as second instalment isn’t released

Jhargram, Feb. 16: Over 100 villagers living below the poverty line in West Midnapore’s Belpahari have alleged that they can’t complete their concrete houses under a central scheme as they are yet to get the second instalment of funds despite submitting utilisation certificates.

The 110 villagers in Belpahari said they got the first instalment of Rs 24,000 to build houses under the Indira Awas Yojana in 2012-13 and spent the money to build the foundation. But the local panchayat is yet to grant them the second instalment of Rs 24,000 to build the house, the villagers alleged.

Block administration officials said the villagers, most of them tribals, were yet to submit their certificates of utilisation.

“How can we release funds if we don’t get utilisation certificates? We have repeatedly asked them to submit the documents, but they did not pay heed. That is why the second instalment cannot be released,” said Sarbodaya Raha, the block development officer of Binpur-II.

Under the central scheme, a person belonging to the BPL category is eligible for a house if he or she owns a plot. The allotment for single-storey houses was Rs 48,000 each in 2012-13 when these 110 villagers were sanctioned the money. The amount has been raised to Rs 75,000 in the current fiscal.

The money is provided by the local panchayats in two equal instalments. After the first instalment is exhausted and the house partly built, the final instalment is released to beneficiaries, provided they submit a utilisation certificate with photographs of the status of the house.

The 110 beneficiaries in Belpahari got their first instalments between November 2012 and February 2013.

Bimal Mistry, a 32-year-old farmer in Simulpal village who earns about Rs 2,500 a month by making or selling stone utensils, said he had received his first instalment of Rs 24,000 in January 2013.

“I started building a house with the Rs 24,000 I received in January last year. Last April, I submitted the utilisation certificate with a photograph of my partly built house to the Simulpal gram panchayat. But I am yet to get my final instalment. I have repeatedly requested the panchayat functionaries but nothing happened,” said Bimal, who has a wife and two sons.

Some of the beneficiaries also doubted if they would be able to complete their houses even if they are given the remaining Rs 24,000.

“Completing the house will be costlier now as the prices of bricks and cement, and labour charges have increased. I will need at least Rs 40,000 more to complete my house,” said Haripada Singh, a labourer from Dakai village.

The chief of the Trinamul-run Simulpal gram panchayat, Lilabati Hembram, said the plans under the scheme were sanctioned by the previous Jharkhand Party-run rural body. “We will do what we can to release the funds as soon as possible,” she said.

The sabhadhipati of Trinamul Congress-run zilla parishad, Uttara Singha, said: “The final instalments will be released soon and I will take personal initiative.”