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Saturday , December 1 , 2012
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Housing scheme a complete disaster

New Delhi, Nov. 30: Housing projects meant for poor under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have failed to take off in many northeastern states, according to the CAG report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The report has pointed out gross irregularities, government apathy and political pressure for the poor report card of the central Integrated Housing and Slum Development scheme.

According to the report, of the 16 lakh housing units approved under the project, 6.2 lakh units have been completed and 3.75 lakh units occupied by beneficiaries till June 2012.

The first problem highlighted is that beneficiary survey was not carried out properly in many states. The guidelines of the urban renewal mission require that the total household survey of slums was required to upgrade their housing.

But no beneficiary survey was conducted for the housing project at Karasinga in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, while the government claimed it would rely on the socio-economic caste census of 2011. Only 60 houses have been completed here.

“Household survey is essential to establish not just the basics like the number of people living in the slum but also their income level, period of stay in one place and so on. Overall, it is essential to identify the beneficiaries,” said a senior official.

In Manipur, the case is worse. The Imphal Municipal Corporation spent Rs 14.7 lakh in 2007 to conduct a survey. But the report was entirely junked when the councillors and MLAs submitted their own lists.

“The municipal corporation selected the beneficiaries recommended by the elected members rendering the expenditure on the survey completely wasteful. The state government explained that on account of urgency of submitting detailed project report, parallel action had been taken to identify the beneficiaries,” the CAG report pointed out.

According to the scheme guidelines, the average cost of construction of the housing units is close to Rs 3 lakh. The average sanctioned area of the house was 25 square metres. The houses are supposed to have two rooms, a kitchen, balcony and a toilet. Each housing unit is supposed to have an independent water and sewerage connection. The idea was the government would tie up with banks and allot these houses to economically weaker sections at a token price. The remaining amount was to be paid back in affordable equal monthly instalments (EMIs) equal to the rent they may be paying for their existing household.

In Nagaland, however, each unit had only one room and two adjoining units were inter-connected with an opening in the inner wall. “The opening leaves the risk of one beneficiary getting the allotment of two dwelling units,” the CAG report pointed out.

The housing projects in Dimapur as well as Kohima in the state, which were launched in 2006, are yet to be completed. Both the projects have been delayed owing to lack of land.

Nagaland has also drawn a complete blank when it comes to allotment. The government has built 1,750 houses but not a single dwelling has been allotted.

Tripura is the only success story where all the 256 houses sanctioned have been completed and allotted.