More than 95,000 women beneficiaries, who were given house sites in Andhra Pradesh two years ago, are now refusing to build houses under a government scheme for a variety of reasons.
In fact, they have been asking the state government to provide them sites at alternative locations as the layouts now proposed are either far away from human habitations or close to burial grounds.
This has pushed the government into a quandary as it will be required to spend close to Rs 800 crore to find alternative sites.
“If we are to fulfil the demand, we will have to acquire more than 2,000 acres of land from private owners for these people. Previously, what we gave away was government land,” a top official of the Housing Department said.
The department officials informed Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy recently that there were 95,106 “tough cases” where the beneficiaries were refusing to take the house site (1.5 cents each) and also build a house.
Officials pointed out that in at least 30 per cent of the cases, the new housing layouts were “located near unsuitable areas like burial grounds”.
In another 30 per cent of the cases, the proposed layouts were faraway from the existing habitations because of which the beneficiaries were rejecting them.
Such problems have cropped up in many mandal headquarter towns and in some semi-urban areas.
In some districts, the officials grouped people from two-three villages and sought to develop a single layout, away from the villages. Here, the beneficiaries are demanding that they be provided sites in their respective villages only.
Special Chief Secretary (Housing) Ajay Jain, however, maintained that the problem arose only in respect of about 50,000 beneficiaries.
“We have asked the district collectors to conduct a survey and identify alternative land for house sites. After the survey, we will complete land acquisition and distribute house sites to the beneficiaries,” Jain told PTI.
Meanwhile, the government is forced to acquire about 600 acres of land, at an estimated cost of Rs 251 crore, for another 24,068 beneficiaries in Prakasam and Anantapuramu districts as the sites previously allotted were under litigation.
As such, the beneficiaries here could not go ahead with construction of houses.
Housing department authorities said alternative lands have been identified in the two districts and the acquisition process was on.
Two years ago, the state government distributed house sites to about 25 lakh women beneficiaries under the flagship ‘Pedalandariki Illu’ (houses for all poor) programme and promised to build as many houses in new layouts.
The state government dovetailed this with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana and took up construction of 18.63 lakh houses in the first phase, targeting to complete them by June 2023.
However, construction of about two lakh houses has not yet begun because of legal issues and reluctance on part of the beneficiaries.
Of the 16.67 lakh houses started, only 6.96 lakh reached the basement and above level in over two years now while construction of only 2.09 lakh houses was completed.
The Government of India released a sum of Rs 5,172 crore to the state for the housing programme so far during the current financial year but Rs 1,140 crore has not been spent on the intended purpose.
The state government is also yet to release its share of Rs 888 crore for the housing works, severely hampering the progress, officials lament.
“Unless this Rs 2,028 crore is immediately released and utilised, the Centre will not release a further grant of Rs 2,488 crore. This will jeopardise the whole programme,” the officials said.
For work done under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Gramin), the state government is yet to pay Rs 120 crore to the beneficiaries, even as the Housing department requested that Rs 220 crore be immediately released to put the programme on “autopilot mode”.