When people lost hopes on government declared welfare schemes the wrath will ruin the prestige and image of the political bigwigs involved. This is what happening with TRS government’s prestigious 2BHK free housing scheme in Telangana.

Thousands of homeless families for whom Telangana government’s 2BHK housing scheme offered a ray of hope are now desperate because of delay in allocation.

Kaki Thirumaliah’s family has seven members and is desperate to move to a pucca house ever since the hut they lived in collapsed due to rain. “We tried taking a house for rent but no one was willing to give,” saysThirumaliah, a Dalit daily wage earner awaiting allocation of a 2BHK apartment under a Telangana government scheme in village Chelmeda of Nizampet mandal in Medak district. 

Thousands of apartments constructed under a dignity housing scheme by Telangana State Housing Corporation Ltd for providing houses for BPL families without pucca homes are lying unoccupied even as families like Thirumaliah’s are awaiting allotment. The 2BHK scheme provides apartments with two bedrooms, a hall and kitchen besides two toilets, covering a plinth area of 560 Sq Ft. The scheme formulated in 2015 is one of the crown projects of the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). 

Potential beneficiaries of the project have been awaiting allotments for many years, some of them up to five, owing to long delays in construction and allocation after finalising beneficiaries. #KhabarLive travelled to select villages in Medak, Sangareddy, Kamareddy and Rangareddy districts to assess the ground situation and probe the reasons for delay in allotment.

In Chelmeda village in Medak there are scores of beneficiaries awaiting allotment of 100 2BHK flats, which are yet to be given water and electricity connections. Families here #KhabarLive spoke to said officials are not heeding their request for early allocation of flats.

A total of 300 2BHK units were constructed in Chelmeda and Kalvakunta villages of the Medak district. Though both projects are almost complete there has been no attempt to distribute them to beneficiaries or launch them. In Kalvakunta, though no allotments have been made officially, at least 10 families have occupied the apartments as they have no place to stay. Some of the women residing in these apartments told #KhabarLive that they have been asked multiple times to vacate the houses. 

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Kummari Vajramma and Shabana MD, two women residents of the apartment complex at Kalvakunta, told #KhabarLive their names are on the list but officials are delaying the allotment. “We are genuine beneficiaries of the scheme and are here because we are homeless. It’s the rainy season and we don’t have a safe roof over our heads but the officials have told us four times to vacate. Where do we go?,” they said. Simply being in the list of beneficiaries does not ensure that the house would be allotted.

The women beneficiaries of the scheme mostly hail from Backward Class and make their living by rolling beedis, while the men work as daily wagers.

Allegations of nepotism

P Shankar, Secretary, Dalit Bahujan Front (DBF) alleged nepotism behind some allotments made in the past. “In many places allotments are not being made at all. In some cases they’re giving it to relatives of TRS leaders. The government should allot the houses to the deserving families immediately as there is no point in leaving the completed houses vacant,” says Shankar. 

He feels that the government is more talk than action. “The Chief Minister sanctioned a total of 2,91,057 houses between 2016 and 2021. Not even half of them are complete. Even the houses which have been completed are not being allotted on time. It’s high time that authorities prevent political interference in the allotment procedure,” says Shankar.

The allocation of houses in Kalvakunta village is facing delay because politicians who hold local body offices want preference for families who support them, according to sources.  

While one of the reasons for construction not being completed seems to be pending bills to the contractors, the delay in distribution of the constructed houses is a “deliberate” act with political motives. 

Most beneficiaries of the scheme hail from socially and economically weaker sections with no other sources of income than their livelihood. They also don’t hold land or other assets. With land prices and construction costs going north the dignity housing scheme is their only hope. 

Shankar alleged that scores of families were evicted from their old houses along the Musi river of Hyderabad in the name of encroachment but were not provided 2BHK houses despite the promises. “They could neither go back to their homes from which they were evicted nor do they know whether the government will allot them a flat,” he says. 

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Delays experienced across the state

In Medak, out of the total 5,254 houses sanctioned only 2,245 have been completed. Another 1,165 houses are nearing completion, however not even half of the completed houses have been distributed to beneficiaries. In Sangareddy district hundreds of houses constructed under the scheme are either lying vacant or incomplete.

Though the construction of over 300 2BHK houses in the limits of Fasalwadi village near Sangareddy town was completed three years ago, the selection of beneficiaries has been delayed, allegedly due to apathy of officials.

“I have been staying on rent for many years. My name is on the beneficiary list but officials are not forthcoming on when the allotments would be made,” says Shabana Begum, a 40-year-old single mother and daily wager from Fasalwadi village. Like Shabana, around 260 families from the village have applied for houses under the scheme. Most of them live in single room houses or huts without basic amenities. 

Byagari Shankaramma, a Dalit woman with two children living in an old mud house said their family could not either afford to build a new house on their own or rent a better place as she and her husband Siddaiah make a living by working as daily wagers.

In the Sangareddy district, where over 20,000 applications were filed online, nod for building 5,745 houses was given out of which 2,359 houses have been completed. Around 2,277 are nearing completion. In Aliabad of Kondapur mandal, 45 houses were distributed to the beneficiaries but work on over 200 houses were stopped midway leaving the beneficiaries in a state of despair.

In Narayankhed municipality limits, only 300 houses out of 944 sanctioned were completed. Even the completed ones have not been distributed since beneficiaries have not been finalised. In Zaheerabad town out of the sanctioned 1,012 houses, over 300 were completed two years ago but they are yet to be allotted. 

Near Solipur and Chilkamarry villages in Shadnagar mandal of Rangareddy district, around 500 houses were constructed three years ago but are yet to be allotted to beneficiaries. Several residents from neighbouring villages here, facing issues of pollution due to the presence of a massive dump yard, are eagerly awaiting their allotment.

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In Rangareddy district, of the total 6,747 flats that were sanctioned only 1,377 have been completed.  In Rameshwarpally of Kamareddy district, along the national highway, around 33 houses have been constructed in the buffer zone of the village water body. The buildings here are already facing the threat of flooding after the water level rose during the rains. In Kamareddy, out of 10,317 sanctioned houses around 4,128 were completed. The status of 2BHK projects in other districts too are similar.

#KhabarLive has reached out to District Collectors of Medak and Sangareddy over phone for their comments on allegations of delay in allotment and lapses in the project. The response would be added once we receive it.

Allotments deliberately delayed’

A recent RTI response by the State Housing Corporation Limited (TSHCL), said 1,13,535 houses were completed against the sanctioned 2,91,057. A total of 69,488 houses are nearing completion as on 13 June, 2022. The Socio Economic Outlook 2022 report, for the state had pegged the number of completed houses, as on November 2021, at 1,07,612.

According to TSHCL, it has utilised Rs 10,800.28 crore out of the Rs 14,786.71 crore which the state government had sanctioned. The response given to Hyderabad-based RTI activist Robin Zachheus also stated that a loan of Rs 8,744.76 crore was taken from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO) for the project to which an  interest amount of Rs 2,661.46 crores was paid by the state government.

Speaking to #KhabarLive, Robin Zachheus said the delay in distribution of the completed houses in most of the cases seems to be a deliberate act aimed at garnering political advantage. “It seems that the allocations would be close to elections to influence the followers,” he says. 

Robin says there have been protests against allotment of houses to certain individuals because they were considered to be favoured by ruling party politicians. “The government should adopt an impartial process to allot flats to deserving families as they’re meant for the poorest who can’t afford the housing facility.” #KhabarLive #hydnews #hyderabadnews