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Govt can’t decide who is poor, so 14,000 new flats vacant for 5 years

Author: Apurva
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 1, 2013
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-cant-decide-who-is-poor-so-14000-new-flats-vacant-for-5-years/1109974/0

In 2008, the Delhi government completed the construction of around 14,000 flats that were to be allotted to people belonging to the economically weaker sections.

Five years later, the flats are empty and have fallen into disrepair. No allotment has been made till now, though government received thousands of applications over the years.

The reason: The government is still working on the definition of EWS and, therefore, cannot decide who qualifies for the category. And for the few who did fit the category, the allocation got tangled in red tape.

The Delhi Cabinet last week constituted a high-level committee of principal secretaries to initiate the allotment of the low-cost houses to eligible applicants under the Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojna. The committee has been tasked with not only defining the criteria under which applicants will be eligible, but also finalise the modalities of the allotment process.

Speaking to Newsline Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit admitted to lapses in government procedure.

"This scheme, meant to provide EWS housing, was launched at least five years ago but yet no allotments have been made despite thousands of applications. The recently formed committee has been tasked with sorting this mess out as soon as possible," Dikshit said.

She said procedural delays would also be weeded out by the committee.

The Opposition BJP slammed the Dikshit government claiming the project was merely an attempt to garner votes. "The government has been talking about this scheme for at least eight years now, and it is barely five per cent complete with no allotments. We are planning to take up this issue in a big way across the city," BJP MLA and senior leader Jagdish Mukhi said.

In Ghoga near Bawana, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) completed the construction of 3,680 flats under the housing scheme. Roop Ram, a watchman for the sprawling project, was hired in 2008.

"We have been guarding this empty housing colony since 2008. They say the project will take off soon. However, in all these years, the only people who come here are government engineers to inspect the site once every few months," Ram said.

The Ghoga complex beginning to show signs of wear and tear. In most flats, window panes are either broken or missing completely, paint is peeling off the walls and a number of water tanks lie broken.

There is not power or water supply facility in the complex.

A senior official in the Delhi government said, "It is all complete, but we are waiting for allotments. What is the point of supplying electricity and water to empty buildings."

Under the scheme, DSIIDC has to construct at least 70,000 such houses across Delhi .

Two years ago, DSIIDC completed around 13,000 houses in Bawana, Bhorgarh, Narela, Ghoga and Baprola. On the anvil, under the JNNURM, are 18,760 houses at Pooth Khurd, 3,600 at Kanjhawala and 8,420 houses at Tikri Kalan.

A senior DSIIDC official said, "More sites are being identified and acquired for the construction of more such houses."

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