Subsidy is denied on flimsy grounds, say beneficiaries

Nagesh Poojary, a daily wage worker, not just saved up but also took out loans to construct a house in Narikombu village, Bantwal, banking on assistance under a government scheme. It’s been months since the construction work started, but the instalments assured in the scheme haven’t yet come.

He intends to spend around Rs. 2 lakh on the modest 500 square feet house, with Rs. 75,000 subsidy from the State government-funded Basava Vasati Yojane. “Now they tell me my application has been blocked because I had not started construction within 90 days of the application getting approved. With my dire financial situation and the difficulty in getting contractors, how do they expect the work to start in this,” he asked.

He joins 53 persons from his gram panchayat whose applications are “blocked.”

Similarly, Malathi Anand’s house in Kuppepadavu, Mangalore taluk, remains in the foundation stage, after authorities cancelled her application for delaying construction. Mohammad’s subsidy for a house near Farangipet, Bantwal, was cancelled for exceeding the 1,200 square feet limit set under by the scheme; Harish K., member, Moodshedde Taluk Panchayat, said subsidy for houses for 60 persons were held back as they started construction “before receiving the official order”.

With a labyrinth of complicated rules, it isn’t surprising that the performance of housing schemes in the district is abysmal.

Since the start of the scheme in 2010-11, a target of 30,000 houses had been set. The district administration could only identify 19,912 beneficiaries, with only around 21 per cent of the houses completed thus far. Zilla panchayat statistics show 10,320 applications had been blocked due to various reasons.

Other housing schemes such as the Centrally-funded Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) – which differs only in the criteria of selection – also lag, with only two per cent of the beneficiaries having had completed houses; while the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe-specific Ambedkar Housing Scheme, funded by the State government, has identified only 137 beneficiaries out of the targeted 260. Only two houses have been completed (till February), and not one beneficiary could be identified in Mangalore and Bantwal taluks.

Officials said rigid rules of Basava Vasati Yojane see many houses getting blocked in the district by the automated software that tracks the progress of construction. Those who build houses that exceed 1,200 square feet or cost more than Rs. 3 lakh are rejected by the software. “The software also blocks payment if the house is not started within 90 days of application getting approved. In a district where there is labour and sand shortage, this is a difficult deadline to follow,” said Mohammad Nazeer, Chief Planning Officer, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat.

On IAY, which reserves 60 per cent of the houses for SCs/STs, and Ambedkar Housing Scheme, officials blame the lack of eligible beneficiaries for the poor performance.

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