Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, forging ahead with his welfare agenda, on Tuesday announced that the quota of 2BHK houses for the poor in each Assembly Constituency would be raised from the present 400 units to 1,400.
During a short discussion on ‘Weaker Sections Housing’ in the State Assembly, the Chief Minister said based on the demand from houseless poor, the government had decided to increase the number of 2BHK houses allotted to each Assembly constituency. “And this includes constituencies represented by opposition members since the TRS government does not believe in discrimination,” he said.
The Chief Minister said a special budget of Rs. 17,660 crore had been kept aside exclusively for the housing scheme. Rao said if the members took the initiative of taking up the construction works with the help of local contractors, the government was willing to ease the norms for speedy completion of construction of 2BHK houses.
Chief Minister urged the members not to get involved or put pressure in the selection of beneficiaries since the respective district Collectors had been entrusted with this task to ensure transparency.
Corruption in Congress regime
On corruption during the Congress regime, the Chief Minister said that the various housing scheme which initially began as welfare measure for the people, however, changed course and ended up as a major source of ill-gotten wealth for political leaders. “This trend peaked during 2004 and 2014 in undivided AP if one were to examine the quantum of corruption at that time. “The number of houses that were constructed according to the bills passed were not found on the ground. There were umpteen numbers of incidents where people claimed payment for construction of houses which aggregated to more than the entire household in a village,” he said.
“Take for instance Manthani Assembly Constituency where bills for construction of houses were actually 40 per cent higher than the actual number of families living there,” he said, adding that nothing illustrates better the level of corruption.
Pointing out that the then government itself had ordered an inquiry into the nexus between politicians and officials which had established irregularities and corruption, the Chief Minister said that between 2004 and 2014, criminal cases were registered against 225 persons for committing irregularities under Indiramma Housing Scheme.
Among the accused were 122 officials, 133 middlemen and politicians. “One ZPTC member, three MPTC members, 14 sarpanches and three single window chairmen were found guilty of involvement in the scam as per the then government’s findings,” he said, adding that 512 officials from the Housing Department were dismissed from service and another 140 suspended. Of these, 122 officials were convicted and about Rs 2.86 crore recovered from them.
The Telangana government, in an effort to bring out the corrupt practices in undivided AP, ordered a CB-CID inquiry on July 26, 2014 on the scam which is still going on.
While the inquiry is still on pertaining to irregularities in Indiramma Housing Scheme, the Chief Minister said the government had decided not to allow the inquiry to affect the poor who constructed houses under the scheme. “Hence, we instructed District Collectors to conduct a survey and identify genuine beneficiaries. The revenue officials conducted a survey in villages and found that there were about 1,19,000 fake beneficiaries and about 2,46,170 genuine beneficiaries. Only 56,059 houses of beneficiaries were constructed completely and about 2,04,000 houses are in various stages of construction, he said.
Stating that the government had paid Rs. 369.48 crore towards Indiramma houses so far, another Rs 1,159. 85 crore will have to be paid once the construction of houses is completed, he said.
The Chief Minister also pointed out that construction costs had gone up manifold compared to earlier years. With the help of various financial corporations, the State Government has mobilised Rs. 17,660 crore necessary for house construction. “In two years, we allocated Rs 1,433 crore in the State budget. Besides, the Centre has also sanctioned Rs 333 crore while HUDCO agreed to give loan totaling Rs 17,660.40.
100 per cent subsidy
Stating that the subsidy component was miserly during the pre-bifurcation period which did not help the poor at all, Rao in 1974, the Hutting Scheme was taken up with the government doling out just Rs 400 per family. “In 1978, the government Rs 1000 for semi- permanent House Scheme, and in 1983, construction of pucca houses for the poor was taken up. Of the Rs 6,000 construction cost for a house, the government subsidy was just Rs 2,750 with the rest of the 54 per cent cost to be borne by the beneficiary,” he said.
Stating that the subsidy component only got worse in subsequent years, the Chief Minister pointed out that against the unit cost of Rs 22,500 in 2004, government subsidy was a mere Rs 7,000 or 31.2 per cent. “The subsidy component dropped to abysmal level in 2014 when government subsidy for a Rs 70,000 unit cost was Rs 20,500 translating into a miserly 29.3 per cent,” he said.
Reforms by government
Following this experience, the State Government, he said, had initiated several reforms in the entire process. “Stringent rules have been framed to ensure zero corruption. The modalities for selection were formulated in such a way that it is done in a transparent manner. The quota system for ministers and legislators has been abolished and the district administration under the chairmanship of the district Collector will shortlist the beneficiaries,” he said.