Special Correspondent

‘Political parties should refrain from making false promises to undeserving families’

Many people living in neighbouring villages too have sought house-sites in the town

ONGOLE: The Indiramma housing programme in Ongole town has become such a mess that the officials and political parties are struggling to extricate themselves from it.

Even as the clamour for houses is increasing, officials are running against time to identify genuine beneficiaries and find land for them. They could construct only 100 houses till now while the number of applications received exceeded 10,000! Significantly, even the Left parties are perplexed over the demand. As it became a tricky issue to weed out bogus applicants, the CPI prefers to keep its hands off the housing programme and leave the arduous task to the officials at least in municipal towns. The CPI(M) too wants the officials to introduce Iris system to weed out bogus applications and avoid duplication.

Ongole Municipal Chairman Bapatla Hanumantha Rao found fault with officials for their failure to adopt systematic approach in identifying the beneficiaries. He said that political parties too should refrain from making false promises to undeserving families.

Bad beginning

The housing programme in the town was bogged down in controversies from the beginning. Municipal officials identified 2,500 beneficiaries in the first phase of Indiramma. But, revenue officials on verification found only 900 were eligible. Ongole MLA Balineni Sreenivasa Reddy raised a hue and cry over the guillotine. On his request, the Chief Minister ordered resurvey in which 136 more were found eligible. The exercise took more than one year. Revenue officials have ultimately provided house sites to all on Koppole road.

Revenue officials, who identified 2900 beneficiaries in the second phase, were bewildered that there was still clamour for inclusion. When they called for applications for the third phase too, they received 8,000 applications.

The officials and political parties realised that things were going out of their hand. Subtle inquiries revealed that many people living in neighbouring villages too sought house-sites in the town where the cost has gone up to Rs. 1-2 lakh each.

So the revenue officials are planning to introduce Iris system to verify whether the applicants are locals or not on the basis of ration cards.