People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 04, 2007
Set Up Ombudsman
Indiramma Programme Riddled With Corruption & Irregularities
M Venugopala Rao
A sample survey conducted by the CPI(M) on implementation of Indiramma housing programme for the poor in Andhra Pradesh revealed that the names of 44.76 per cent of eligible people were not included in the lists of beneficiaries and that names of 21 per cent of the people who were not eligible figured in the lists.
The survey also revealed that corruption was rampant, taking place in several forms in the implementation of the programme. Bribes are being taken for sanctioning of houses, release of instalments of loans, and bags of cement in lesser quantity and bricks of inferior quality are being given. Bills are being raised and funds swallowed even without constructing houses, besides making money by simply painting old houses and showing them as new houses constructed under the Indiramma programme.
Even though an intended beneficiary is a major, his or her application is being rejected under the pretext that he or she figured in the ration card as a minor. Pink ration cards given by mistake to the families below the poverty line who are entitled to get a white ration card are not being changed into white ration cards and their applications are being rejected, treating them as ineligible people.
In a letter addressed to the minister for housing, B Satyanarayana, Polit Bureau member and state secretary of the CPI(M) B V Raghavulu pointed out that the Indiramma housing programme was becoming a money spinner for ineligible people, political middle men and the corrupt and that the benefit that was accruing to the poorest of the poor was negligible. Raghavulu made it clear that after touring in the districts extensively and ascertaining the factual position personally, he had come to this confirmation.
With selection of ineligible people under pressure of influential people and to meet political requirement, the public money intended for the benefit of the poorest of the people was being squandered and the very aim of the government’s programme is getting affected, he explained. He made it clear that since the selection of ineligible people was being made due to the pressure exerted by the leaders of the ruling party, it was unwise to make the staff of the government responsible for the same.
Raghavulu explained that at many places the very beneficiaries who had already got house sites were being selected for Indiramma housing programme and that selection of the eligible people who did not have house sites was rare. As a result of this method, the poor who are really in need of houses and those who are taking shelter in others’ houses are being eliminated from the scheme. Referring to the statements made by the chief minister, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, and the minister that why should the CPI(M) agitate for house sites to the poor when the government was constructing houses for them, Raghavulu asked the minister as to how the government would give houses to the poor, who did not have houses sites, without selecting them as beneficiaries under the scheme.
Though the lists of the eligible people who were not included in the lists of beneficiaries of Indiramma housing programme were submitted to the authorities concerned in the districts, no survey was conducted by them and the eligible people were not included in the lists of beneficiaries so far. It is not a mistake committed by the staff of the government but had happened only because the government had given such a policy direction, Raghavulu asserted in his letter to the minister.
While the government said that the issues of homeless poor would be addressed, the officers concerned said that there were no directions from the government to include in the lists of beneficiaries the names of elible people whose lists were already submitted, he pointed out. Explaining how irregularities and corruption were taking place in the implementation of the programme as revealed in the sample survey, Raghavulu asserted that media reports in the districts and the versions of the people in the villages make it abundantly clear that corruption in the implementation of Indiramma housing programme was rampant.
Even those poor people who were sanctioned houses under the programme were finding it difficult to complete construction of houses, with the amount sanctioned by the government being quite inadequate for completing construction. As a result, construction of houses was being stopped at the level of basement itself and in the middle. Those who incurred debts for constructing their houses were being caught in debt trap, unable to repay it. Those who could not get debt could not complete construction of their houses. Because of this kind of predicament, some of the beneficiaries were giving up the houses sanctioned to them, Raghavulu explained. Most of such beneficiaries were dalits and tribals, as was the case with the eligible people who were not selected because they did not have house sites. Raghavulu found fault with the government for not constructing houses for the poor or sanctioning house sites or allowing them to raise a hut. He pointedly asked the minister whether it was the kind of justice under Indiramma regime being meted out to the poor by razing their huts raised on government lands with bulldozers or burning them with petrol. Raghavulu demanded the government to set up the institution of ombudsman to curb corruption in the implementation of Indiramma housing programme. He also suggested to the government to conduct a comprehensive survey and include all the eligible people in the lists of beneficiaries and to give pattas to those who had set up huts on government lands.
ROUND TABLE MEETING OF POLITICAL PARTIES
A round-table meeting on ‘irregularities and corruption in Indiramma’ organised by the CPI(M) at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in Hyderabad demanded the state government to form all-party monitoring committees at the district and mandal levels to ensure transparency in implementation of Indiramma housing programme and eliminate corruption in it. Explaining the kind of irregularities and corruption taking place in implementation of the programme, the meeting warned the government that the political parties themselves would form a monitoring committee if the government did not comply with their demand. Leaders of the CPI(M), CPI, Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Lok Satta participated in the meeting. B V Raghavulu, TDP leader Kadiam Srihari, TRS leader Nayani Narsimha Reddy, CPI leader K Ramakrishna, Lok Satta leader Bodepudi Satyanarayana, CPI(M) leader Y Venkateswara Rao and others participated in the meeting.