Bandipora: An RTI on the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – an affordable housing scheme for the urban poor - reveals huge discrepancies by the officials of Municipal Council Bandipora (MCB) in north Kashmir.
Scores of government employees, ineligible and unverified cases have taken illegal benefits under the scheme meant for the poor, the information reveals.
The RTI applicant had sought information on the approved list of beneficiaries of the PMAY (Urban) scheme for the year 2021, details of installments paid, recoveries made from ineligible beneficiaries, a list of beneficiaries under IHSDP for the year 2010 to 2012, and an investigation report on discrepancies.
However, the MCB has provided information on the listed beneficiaries only under two schemes - PMAY-(U) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP).
As per the information provided by the Public Information Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Municipal Council Bandipora for scheme PMAY-U, under DPR I, 557 beneficiaries was enlisted for 17 wards of Bandipora town while under DPR II, 208 beneficiaries were enlisted and for DPR III, 185 were enlisted on the provided record, though all are not benefited.
The information provided under the RTI reveals that the scheme has been either executed “casually” or the field officials have worked “hand in glove” in incorporating the ineligible beneficiaries to take illegal benefits in gross violation of the norms laid under the scheme.
The beneficiary data not only underscores the loopholes from the municipal corporation but also highlights the “injustice” done against those who were eligible for the scheme.
Under the RTI information, the copy of which lies with the Greater Kashmir, it has come to forth that not only several government employees have taken the benefit of the scheme meant exclusively for the poor but even those beneficiaries have taken at least two installments who already had well-built houses and properties worth lakhs of rupees, highlighting the negligence and discrepancies of the department in verifying the genuine cases.
The information of various beneficiaries despite being benefited mention them “non-verified” while others are “ineligible” cases, who too have already taken the benefit under the scheme and have already constructed the houses.
It is even when the listed documents of each ward beneficiaries are countersigned by at least six employees, revealing that “the sites have been personally verified, and are correct and actual as per field reports”.
The officials include the president and executive engineer MCB among others.
Moreover, each ward and beneficiaries are geo-tagged, the officials claim in the RTI.
Despite the MCB already having information of the beneficiaries of IHSDP of 2010-2012, the MCB has still tried to adjust several such cases under the PMAY-U scheme.
Many among those beneficiaries have taken two installments for the IHSDP scheme as well, the RTI reveals. Under IHSDP, the total dwellings sanctioned are 413 with each unit costing Rs 1.03 lakh.
Under the scheme, Rs 4.25 crore have been received from which Rs 3.97 crore have been released.
Though the officials have marked several such benefited cases as ineligible in PMSY-U, which include government employees and those having property worth lakhs, they stated that the “recovery letters have been issued” to them.
However, the RTI has not provided any information on the matter and said that the information for the “recoveries are affected by the CLTC personnel”.
The RTI had also sought photographic proof of the beneficiaries.
However, the MCB did not provide those as well despite stating on the enclosure document that those were “enclosed” with the information.
According to the official sources, scores of those ineligible cases had “morphed” the photographic evidence with photo editing software to avail the benefits and this was done with the patronage of the MCB officials conducting the verification or approving such cases.
“They would visit some under-construction site and click a digital photograph, later they would morph it by placing themselves in the photograph and file it with the officials or at the office to avail the benefits of the schemes,” the sources said.
The locals, who had been alleging discrepancies in the execution of the scheme for long, have demanded a proper investigation so that all ineligible and rich were weeded out from the scheme and the scheme was executed fairly in the future so that the poor are not left in the lurch.