The active involvement of panchayat and project officials and the support of local people have made Kuttichal the first panchayat in the district to complete the construction of the first batch of houses for the homeless poor under the EMS Housing Scheme.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is scheduled to hand over the keys of 140 houses constructed under the scheme in the panchayat on Monday.

The construction had begun in early March.

EMS Housing Campaign Cell convener Biju V.S said the two key factors that enabled the timely completion of the project were the people's convention and the beneficiary convention held before starting the work.

“Through the beneficiary convention, we were able to complete the process of verifying the documents and issuing building permits to beneficiaries in a single day. In the normal course, it would have taken weeks for them to get these works done at government offices,” he said.

The people's convention was held to mobilise support for the beneficiaries from the local people and voluntary organisations. “A panchayat-level people's committee was formed to mobilise people's support for the scheme. This committee includes volunteers, people's representatives and social workers who could support the beneficiaries either by providing materials or manpower,” district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan said.

The district panchayat and the project implementation cell also helped the beneficiaries by making building materials available at a fair price.

“Many of the houses, with a plinth area of 400-450 sq ft, have been constructed by the family members of the beneficiaries themselves, as it is not possible for them to afford labour charges with the financial assistance that they receive under the scheme,” Kuttichal panchayat village extension officer R.S. Rajagopal said.

Financial aid

The financial assistance provided under the scheme is Rs.1 lakh for beneficiaries belonging to the Scheduled communities and Rs.75,000 for other categories. Beneficiary families with physically challenged members also receive Rs.1 lakh. Most of the beneficiaries have relied on personal loans to complete the construction of their house.

Mohanan Nair, a daily wage labourer, said the construction of his house would not have been possible without the support of his neighbours. “As I am a heart patient, I cannot do heavy work. My school-going son also suffers from physical disability. It is the selfless support of my neighbour and his family that has helped us to get a house of our own,” he said. He said he had taken loans from various agencies to finish the construction.

Of the 140 houses nearing completion in Kuttichal, 32 are in the Mundani Lakshamveedu Colony. The EMS Housing Scheme will benefit a total of 197 homeless below poverty line families and 42 landless families in the panchayat.

Mr. Rajagopal said steps had been initiated for identifying land for constructing houses for the landless poor.

Kunnathukal, Malayinkeezh, Balaramapuram and Maranellur are the other panchayats in the district where the implementation of EMS Housing Scheme is progressing rapidly. The first batch of houses in Kunnathukal panchayat will be inaugurated by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac on Wednesday.

Keywords: Housing scheme