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Statehood agitation leaves Darjeeling hills without PMAY list

Scheme, which was launched on April 1, 2016, by Centre, is aimed at constructing 2.95 crore houses across the country by March 2024
Representational image.
Representational image.
File picture

Vivek Chhetri   |   Darjeeling   |   Published 07.01.23, 03:20 AM

Not a single house has been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in the Darjeeling hills since 2017 because of the absence of a list of beneficiaries with the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

The scheme, which was launched on April 1, 2016, by the Centre, is aimed at constructing 2.95 crore houses across the country by March 2024. 


The beneficiaries of the scheme under which homes are built in rural areas for financially backward people were initially selected using housing deprivation parameters of the Social Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data of 2011.

“In 2017-18, the Centre also allowed a fresh list to be prepared through the Awaas+ survey following requests from some state governments. However, this survey could not be conducted in the Darjeeling hills because of the situation prevailing then here,” said an official source.

A 104-day general strike demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland was observed in the hills in 2017. Fifteen people, including two police personnel, died during the agitation.

“Since the survey to include the beneficiaries in the PMAY has not been conducted, the GTA does not have a list of eligible persons,” said a source.  From 2017 to early 2022, the GTA was run by a board of administrators nominated by the state government.

The lack of the survey had led to thousands being deprived of the scheme in rural areas. The PMAY for urban areas (PMAY-U) is, however, being undertaken in the hills based on a baseline survey conducted by civic bodies in 2015-16.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries are provided with a sum of Rs 1.2 lakh each to construct houses.

“Along with the financial assistance, the beneficiaries are also offered 90 days of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which totals around Rs 18,000 and another Rs 12,000 for the construction of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission - Gramin,” said an official.

While a beneficiary in the hills receives Rs 1.2 lakh, those in  Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which have been classified as “hill states”, along with northeastern states and some districts identified under the Integrated Action Plan, are provided with Rs 1.30 lakh each.

“In this scheme, the share of the Centre and the state is in the ratio of 60:40 but in hill states and other special areas, the ratio changes to 90:10,” said a source.

Darjeeling district magistrate and GTA principal secretary S. Ponnambalam said: “We have requested for the survey to be conducted.”

The final list of beneficiaries will be prepared after it is vetted by the lowest unit of local self-government like gram sabha or any unit recognised by the state government and after the same is made public for any objections.

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