Bhubaneswar: The BJD government in Odisha and the Centre have agreed to resolve issues related to the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin in the state and take action against fraudulent beneficiaries and complicit officials, an official release said.
The decisions were taken at a meeting in New Delhi in the presence of Odisha’s Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Minister P K Amat, Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Giriraj Singh and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
“It was agreed in the meeting that the anomalies during the implementation of the PMAY(G) that have been pointed out by the central team will be resolved and punitive action will be initiated against fraudulent beneficiaries and complicit officials,” the official statement said on Thursday.
Taking to Twitter, Pradhan said, “There are plans to provide around 10 lakh houses under PMAY(G) in Odisha. The poor people of both urban and rural along with backwards and tribals in the state will get benefits. Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi ji is giving priority to make houses affordable to homeless people.”
Singh raised concern over “irregularities” flagged by the central team of the rural development ministry, who visited the state to verify and review the status of PMAY (G) scheme.
“There were as many as 37 per cent anomalies in the list of beneficiaries and discrepancies in uploading data on Awas-soft website, fudging bank account numbers of beneficiaries, transfers of funds to non-eligible persons and denying benefits to legitimate individuals,” Singh pointed out at the meeting.
He objected to the change of logo of the PMAY-G, which is “against the scheme guidelines”.
The union rural development minister called for effective monitoring of the housing programme in the state and a social audit of the Panchayats to be undertaken.
He also stressed on the effective convergence of the scheme with ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ for the construction of toilets, ‘Saubhagya scheme’ for power connection to every household, ‘Har Ghar Nal Se Jal’ for tapped water and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana for cooking gas connection.
“The convergence is at 20-25 per cent,” he said.
Singh at the meeting said the Union Rural Development Ministry along with the state government has a target to provide houses to the more than 8 lakh beneficiaries in Odisha.
The tribal and backward districts should be accorded priority, he said.
Earlier in December 2021, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking 1.84 lakh houses for cyclone Fani-affected families and 13 lakh houses for tribals and others in Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi districts.
The Centre decided to allocate an additional eight lakh houses to Odisha under the scheme.
“We had a discussion on how landless and homeless people would get a house. Both the central and state governments are working towards providing houses to the genuine poor beneficiaries,” Amat said.
However, the Odisha unit of the BJP had a strong objection to the process of implementation of the PMAY(G) in the state and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into alleged irregularities and “corruption up to Rs 1,000 crore”.
The saffron camp also sought immediate removal of logos of the Biju Pucca Ghar Yojna (BPGY) from the houses of beneficiaries.
The ruling BJD on its part justified that the state can use the logo as the Odisha government also contributes to the construction of houses under the PMAY(G).
However, the Centre had clarified to the BJD government that the contribution from state resources is a commitment by it to implement the centrally sponsored scheme, and it does not give rights to use of any other logo than PMAY-G.
The BJD has also alleged that the Centre meted out step-motherly treatment to Odisha in the allocation of houses under the PMAY (G) scheme for the past three years.
The party MPs also raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha in February this year and said that the tribal people are being affected by the Centre’s “denial to add 6.65 lakh houses on the Awaas Plus portal”.