The Bengal government will organise orientation programmes for 8.3 lakh Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) beneficiaries set to get dwelling units by March 2020 to make them aware about their entitlements and protect them from from any kind of extortion, including cut money.
The decision is seen as the fallout of a directive from the Centre. Unlike several other central directives the state government has been accused of ignoring in the past, Nabanna has decided to follow it.
“We have accepted the directive and it will be followed in the districts. It has been accepted as this could help beneficiaries know about their rights. The district magistrates will take it up seriously as beneficiaries were complaining that political leaders were demanding cut money while sanctioning funds for their dwelling units,” said a senior state official.
Sources in the panchayat department said during the orientation programme, block officials would meet beneficiaries, brief them about the scheme and explain how to go about getting the first instalment.
“All beneficiaries will be called to the orientation programme and we will hand them over their sanction letters. We will make them aware of the rules to construct houses under the scheme and inform them that they don’t need to pay money to anyone,” said Moumita Godara Basu, the Birbhum district magistrate.
Since the last general elections in which the BJP bagged 18 of the 42 seats in Bengal, several agitations were launched against Trinamul leaders in the rural areas demanding return of cut money.
Many of the beneficiaries of the PMAY had alleged that ruling party leaders had forced them to pay between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 to get enrolled under the scheme, which provides Rs 1.2 lakh each to beneficiaries to set up a dwelling unit on their plots.
The panchayat department has also decided to give a phone number to the beneficiaries of each block where they can lodge complaints if anybody demands money from them under the scheme.
Besides the orientation programme, the Centre has made the project a time-bound one in an attempt to reduce corruption at the grassroots level.
Sources said that under new rules, houses under the scheme would have to be completed within 100 days of the release of the first installment of funds. So far, there was no time limit and the schemes were officially supposed to be completed “as early as possible”.