Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 3,024 flats in Kalkaji for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) on Wednesday, while describing the ruling BJP dispensation at the Centre as a “poor person’s government”.
“Today is a very big day for scores of families who have been living in Delhi’s slums for years. In a way, today is the beginning of a new life for them,” Mr. Modi said in his address to the gathering at Vigyan Bhavan.
In an apparent jibe at Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, Mr. Modi, while enumerating several pro-poor initiatives undertaken by the Centre, asked, “For all the schemes I spoke about, how many advertisements with my face shining in the middle should have been given? If I tell you about more [such] schemes, we will need a lot more time. We did not spend money on advertisements but the schemes.”
The move to provide permanent flats to the slum dwellers in Kalkaji comes ahead of the civic body polls which are likely to be held before the end of the year. The BJP, which has been in power in Delhi’s three civic bodies (now unified) for 15 years, is seeking a fourth term.
Making ‘an ideal city’
Mr. Modi said efforts being made by the Centre would play a big role in making Delhi “an ideal city”. He said the developments being witnessed in big cities such as Delhi were made possible by the “hard work and efforts of the poor”, who were, paradoxically, “made to live in deplorable conditions”.
When there is “such an imbalance in one single city”, how could holistic development be possible, said Mr. Modi.
He said the BJP-ruled government at the Centre could not leave the poor “in this condition”, and stressed that the marginalised would continue to remain at the core of the decisions related to policymaking made by the Central government.
Among those present at the event were Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, Union Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and several BJP MPs from Delhi.
Happy beyond words
“I wish my in-laws were alive to see this day. They lived in the slum for 40 years. The process began in March and we already have a house,” said Mamta Mandal, one of the beneficiaries.
“We are a family of five — three children, my husband and I — and the flat is small for us all. But it’s clean, it has security guards at the gates just like any other society. And it’s ours! I am very happy,” she added.
Narayan Das, another beneficiary, said his family had been waiting to be allotted a flat since 2013. He regretted that his parents did not live to witness their dream coming true.
Speaking on the issue of unauthorised colonies in Delhi, the Prime Minister acknowledged “the constant worry of the people” about the status of their houses.
“Work is going on to regularise the houses built in the unauthorised colonies of Delhi through the PM-UDAY scheme. Till now thousands of people have taken advantage of this scheme,” he said.
As much as ₹700 crore had been spent in providing interest subsidies to poor and middle-class families to help them construct their own houses, he said. The BJP government at the Centre is “leaving no stone unturned to fulfil the aspirations of the citizens in Delhi,” he added.
“The Central government aims to turn Delhi into a grand city with all the amenities in accordance with its status as the Capital of the country,” he also said.
According to a statement issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which has constructed the houses under its in situ rehabilitation programme, the cost of construction of each of the flats allotted on Wednesday is nearly ₹11.41 lakh.
The DDA said that the beneficiaries are paying “only 10%” of their flat’s cost.
The urban body also said that the allotments were being made on a “leasehold basis with a lock-in period of 10 years”.