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BPL housing scheme 'scam' - Family members & loyalists of RSP leaders among beneficiaries

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By ALAMGIR HOSSAIN
  • Published 5.03.12
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Naoda, March 4: Several undeserving candidates have allegedly been allotted money in a Murshidabad pocket under a central housing scheme for below-poverty-line people.

Many residents of Gangadhari village in Naoda have been enlisted as beneficiaries of the Indira Awaas Yojana even though they already have a house and farmland, depriving homeless people.

Villagers owing allegiance to the Congress lodged a complaint with the block development officer of Naoda last month accusing the RSP-run local Madhupur gram panchayat of allotting money under the scheme to family members and loyalists of the Left party.

BDO Manas Kumar Mondal said he was probing the allegations. “In the complaint lodged by villagers, it has been alleged that none of the 100 people who were allotted cash in January to build houses belonged to the BPL category. A preliminary probe has revealed that 50 per cent of the beneficiaries were not genuine,” he said.

Mondal said it was being probed how these beneficiaries were included in the BPL list. “We are probing how these people got BPL cards. We have found that several of the beneficiaries already own houses. We are taking pictures of such houses. We will lodge an FIR against those proved guilty.”

An applicant for the scheme has to submit a declaration saying that he does not have a pucca house or is homeless. The applicant has to have at least one cottah land because land is not provided by the government. “If it is found that a beneficiary had given false statements, he will be charged with fraud and cheating,” the BDO said.

District magistrate Rajeev Kumar said such allotments were illegal. “Action will be taken after the inquiry,” he said.

BPL lists are drawn up by the local panchayat and cards are distributed by the BDO’s office. Panchayats also prepare the list of eligible candidates for the housing scheme and disburse the money.

District officials said the objective of the Indira Awaas Yojana was to provide grants to BPL-category people in rural areas. “Each beneficiary in a plain area is given Rs 45,000 to build a small brick house with a tiled roof. He or she gets half the money before starting the construction and the remaining amount is given after work begins. A beneficiary living in a difficult terrain is given Rs 48,500,” an official said.

The Telegraph has learnt that local RSP leader Moslem Sarkar’s wife Benu Bibi was allotted cash to build two houses under the scheme. RSP leader and former panchayat member Kalpana Mondal was also enlisted as a beneficiary.

“We have found out that Kalpana’s husband Amiya Mondal owns a house and 10 acres of farmland,” a district official said.

Asked why she was allotted cash under the scheme, Kalpana said: “An RSP leader asked me to sign the application form. The party made all arrangements.”

The district official said Raju Bewa, the widow of an RSP supporter, also made it to the list of beneficiaries even though she owns a two-storey pucca house.

Palu Khan, a resident of Gangadhari, said RSP leaders and workers were being “wrongfully” included in the list of beneficiaries as the panchayat was run by the party. “Many of them have already received the first instalment and have started building houses,” he said.

The panchayat chief of Madhupur, Aleya Siddiqui, claimed she had allotted money under the housing scheme based on the list submitted by panchayat members. “I don’t know if any of the beneficiaries already had a house,” she said.

Samsul Mollah, 55, a labourer who lives in a dilapidated straw hut, said he was “deprived” even though he had a BPL card. “I have heard that people owing allegiance to the RSP are getting money to build houses. Poor people like me are being deprived.”