Musical band for central housing scheme laggards
A unique initiative by a civic body in Jharkhand to use a musical band for “public shaming” of beneficiaries of a central housing scheme who have not completed their units even after getting the sanctioned amount has led to a higher completion rate of houses.
The Lohardaga Nagar Parishad, one of the 45 urban local bodies in Jharkhand, has started the “public shaming” exercise using a band to perform at the doorstep of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana— Urban beneficiary and also announcing through microphone about non-completion of construction even after getting the sanctioned amount from the government.
The exercise, which was started in August, has led to the Lohardaga Nagar Parishad topping the completion rate of houses under the scheme in the state in September, a remarkable feat for a civic body which was ranked among the worst five performers in the state-wide review in July.
“We were issued a showcause during the review in August as we were placed in the bottom five civic bodies in terms of completion of houses under the PMAY-U scheme. After a lot of discussion we decided that public shaming of beneficiaries who do not construct houses was the only option left. We started with the performance of musical bands, who otherwise used to perform during wedding procession, along with an announcement through microphone of the name and the date on which the amount had been taken by the beneficiary,” said Lohardaga Nagar Parishad city manager Bijay Kumar.
Initially, the beneficiaries were surprised on finding musical bands performing at their doorstep and even neighbours gathered hearing the noise.
“It was only in the presence of a large gathering that we announced through the microphone that the beneficiary has got the amount for construction of a house under PMAY-U but has not constructed the unit and is depriving other rightful beneficiaries from the marginalised communities of enjoying the government benefits. We have found beneficiaries pleading with us to stop the announcement and give in writing the dates by which they would start construction of houses,” said Kumar.
According to the data, in Lohardaga Nagar Parishad area a total of 4,217 beneficiaries were selected for the PMAY-U scheme and till July only 1,894 houses had been constructed. However, after the public shaming initiative began, the house completion figure as on September 29 has reached 2,197.
“We are currently ranked top in Jharkhand in terms of completion of houses under the PMAY-U with a completion rate of 151 per cent,” added Kumar.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana— Urban was launched in 2015 with an objective to provide housing to all marginalised people by 2022. The scheme envisages building houses for beneficiaries who have an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh. The houses have to be built over 320sqfeet carpet area within Rs 3.61 lakh, with Rs 1.5 lakh contribution from the central government while the state government contributes Rs 75,000. The remaining amount for construction of the house would have to be borne by the beneficiary.
Usually, beneficiaries collect the government contribution but shy away from constructing houses under the scheme in urban areas, officials said.