Homing in

This is a brief review of the ground-reporting done by me in 2020 to gauge the progress of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Urban) in Maharashtra’s cities and towns.

I found that though the scheme, being implemented through the urban local bodies (ULB), was extremely popular, it’s execution was plagued with several issues which were further compounded by the challenges thrown in by the pandemic, with beneficiaries having to deal with bureaucratic red tape, loss of income as they struggled to build a new home.


Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) aims to change the urban residential landscape of Indian cities and towns by providing homes to the urban poor and by aiding others to buy their first home by subsidizing housing units.

The scheme is being implemented by the union government through urban civic bodies, namely Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils, and Nagar Panchayats.

One of the flagship schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PMAY(U) started in 2016 with a stated aim to provide ‘housing to all’ by 2022.

It is one of the biggest welfare schemes ever undertaken by the Government of India, in terms of the amount of the grant, number of intended beneficiaries, overall financial allocation (also the political goodwill it can potentially generate for a political regime that undertakes such a welfare project), and the interest it generated among the intended beneficiaries, especially among the urban poor.

Under its most popular vertical – the beneficiary-led construction or BLC – the beneficiary family receives a total of Rs 2.5 lakh in government subsidy – Rs 1.5 lakh from the union government and Rs 1 lakh from the state government – to build the house on an owned plot. In the metro cities, civic bodies undertake housing projects in partnership with private builders and make the homes available to the urban poor at discounted rates (Rs 8 -10 lakh/house). In the latter case, Rs 1.5 lakh/DU PMAYU subsidy is transferred to the builder.

I reviewed the scheme at both these levels) at the level of the municipal corporation (Pune) where PMAY’s Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) component was the most popular vertical, and b) at the municipal council level (in Pathri, Hingoli and Jintur towns of Marathwada) where beneficiary-led construction (BLC) vertical of PMAYU was the most prominent.

Travelling across several districts of Marathwada, I visited cities and towns to speak to the beneficiaries who were allotted homes under the scheme and civic officials who were supervising the scheme.

I found that most homes sanctioned under PMAYU’s biggest and most popular vertical (Beneficiary Led Construction) in which beneficiaries are responsible for constructing the house on their own using the subsidy amounts, remained incomplete due to delays in the release of promised subsidy funds – especially the central government component.

In fact, in many cities and towns of the state, unfinished homes had become a common sight. The delay in completion of the construction and the financial hardships caused by staying in rented accommodations imposed a big emotional cost on the beneficiaries which the state or the media has no way of calculating. The ongoing pandemic made things worse for the affected:

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana subsidy delayed, thousands of beneficiaries forced to live in shanties or half-finished houses

APART from the legwork that I did for ground reporting, I also filed several Right To Information petitions with the local civic bodies, the state government, and the Union Urban Development Ministry to obtain data as well as to bring to the fore how the bureaucratic apathy and red-tape was affecting the effective implementation of the scheme.

The documents obtained through RTI showed that the state government and central agencies were in communication with each other for months over the issue of release of funds and were engaged in a blame-match while the beneficiaries continued to suffer:

Maharashtra: As PMAY (U) beneficiaries wait for funds, state, central agencies in a war of words

SOON after the publication of these news stories, the Hingoli Municipal Council received a pending central subsidy of Rs 3.33 crore (thus bringing reprieve to about 250 beneficiaries), Pathri Municipal Council received Rs 5 crore ending the wait for over 400 beneficiaries.

After the reports, MHADA, the agency implementing PMAY(U) in the state, also changed its fund distribution norms so that subsidy funds are not diverted by the beneficiaries for other purposes:

Show construction progress to avail PMAY funds: Maharashtra civic bodies

The situation in big cities – for instance, Pune – was not any different. It was found that the beneficiaries of the Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) vertical were facing a different but equally pressing conundrum.

In Pune, houses built for the urban poor (lower-income and middle-income groups) by Pune Municipal Corporation were found to be too small (350 square feet carpet area) which led to many beneficiaries who were initially enthusiastic about the scheme forgoing the allotment. In this case, the civic authorities and the union urban development ministry failed to notice a mismatch between the aspiration of the urban poor and the facilities being offered to them under the scheme. In many cases, the loss of employment during the pandemic curtailed their ability to pay for the allotted homes or obtain bank loans.

Financial troubles, tiny houses: Why many PMAY allottees rejected the offer

Even after a second round of allotment as many as 63 per cent of flats on offer remained unclaimed.

Pune: 62% PMAY homes remain unbooked after second round of allotment

The civic body later decided to allot the about 850 unsold flats to the staffers of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) which it partially controls.

Unable to sell flats to intended beneficiaries, PMC moves to allot PMAY(U) flats to PMPML staffers

Why sportspersons from minority communities receive disproportionate blame in defeats?

Theories of social psychology tell us that in groups – such as sport teams – members of minority communities assume salience by virtue of their looks, language, or identifiers in their names. In cases of defeat they are prone to be saddled with burden of blame because their salience makes them seem more causal, more responsible.

Atikh Rashid

Following India’s defeat to Pakistan in the Super 4 match of Asia Cup on Saturday, Indian pacer Arshdeep Singh became the target of social media trolling for dropping a seemingly easy catch of Asif Ali at short third man in the 18th over. Trolls attacked the 23-year-old bowler with political slurs and insinuated that he dropped the catch deliberately, out of his disloyalty to the Indian nation.

Last October, in another high stake India-Pakistan match in T20 international World Cup, Mohammad Shami’s poor bowling performance led to social media trolls questioning his loyalty to the country. For an expensive over in the last lap that hastened Indian teams debacle, Shami’s identity as an Indian was questioned and slurs linking his religion with the rival team were liberally used.

We are living in times of free floating social media hatred that attaches to individuals at the slightest provocations.  Targeted trolling is may also not be spontaneous and could often be part of ‘social media cold wars’ among competing political groups. Still, they do cause hurt to the individual or group at the receiving end.

Any reasonable cricket fan will tell you that it’s excessive and irrational to blame a single act by one player for a team’s defeat and then use that to put his ability and attitude in the dock. But a human mind doesn’t use reason all the time. Many a times, instincts kick in which cloud the appeals to reason.

Mohammad Shami’s poor bowling performance in high stake India-Pakistan match in T20 international World Cup led to social media trolls questioning his loyalty to the country.

Human mind, psychologists tell us, wants to attribute significant incidents – victories, defeats, and such – to causes. The mind starts making inferences about the causes and stops the search when a sufficient cause is found. ‘The Attribution Theory’ is one of the best known theories in social psychology that deals with how people interpret behavior and attribute causations for their own or other people’s behavior. It was first proposed by Fritz Heider in 1958 in his book ‘The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations.

The mind makes a ‘dispositional attribution’ when it explains a person’s action by pointing to something about the person. On the other hand, it makes a ‘situational attribution’ when the behavior or action is said to have been influenced by external factors or by the situation. Observers often tend to make what psychologists call ‘The Fundamental Attribution Error’ in which they overestimate the dispositional influences (‘the catch was dropped because the player is bad at the game, or he is disloyal to the team’) and underestimating the situational influences (the ball slipped off because of the dew, the light glare, or pressure of the game).

While observers are prone to making dispositional attribution, the individual involved in the in the action with negative result often makes situational attribution – blaming factors external to him or her.

The salience of the minority members

The human mind makes sense of the world with the aid of categories. In social life, the social categories help the mind make easy and fast judgements. By definition, minority groups are ‘uncommon’ and the human cognitive system is tuned to spotting their presence.

Individuals from minority groups are salient in perception, memory, and visual awareness, hence performance of players like Arshdeep Singh or Mohammad Shami comes under greater scrutiny, especially during high stake games.

Increasing social discord and thickening of community lines – something that India has been seeing a lot lately – makes people more aware and observant about the behavior of people perceived as others.

Research by Taylor and Fiske (1978) shows that women are seen as more causal when they is only one woman in the group.

Research done by Shelly Taylor and Susan Fiske shows that in a group setting a member of a minority community is seen as more influential and causal when there’s only one minority member in the group, thus making the presence salient. When there is only one woman in a group, she is seen as disproportionately responsible for the group decisions. This impression declines as more women are added to the group.

In their 1978 study ‘Salience, Attention, and Attribution: The Top of the Head Phenomenon’, Taylor and Fiske discuss the ‘Salience Hypothesis’ which states that the more salient an actor seems, the more an observer will ascribe a causality to him or her while making a snap judgment.

When things turn out well (a match is won, an enemy is crushed) the effects of salience turn out to be good. In times of adversity (a team is defeated by an arch rival, a pandemic threatens the wellbeing of the world and shuts economic activity), then people who are salient because they look different or sound different  are at the risk of becoming scapegoated, being blamed as their salience makes them seem more responsible. 

Further Readings:

1)      Salience, Attention, and Attribution: Top of the Head Phenomena (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S006526010860009X)

2)      Minority salience and the overestimation of individuals from minority groups in perception and memory (https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2116884119#:~:text=In%20many%20contexts%2C%20minorities%20tend,creating%20an%20illusion%20of%20diversity)

3)      The process of causal attribution (https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1973-24800-001)

4)      Salience https://thedecisionlab.com/reference-guide/psychology/salience

5)      Attribution Theories (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3Or-jq3G1g8

Why a bronze medal winner often looks happier than a silver medallist at the Olympics

In a 1995 research paper, psychologists studying ‘counterfactual thinking’ analysed video footage of the 1992 Barcelona Games to deduce that the knowledge of ‘almost winning a Gold medal’ ruined the moment for a silver medallist, while the bronze winner was contented by the thought: ‘I at least won a medal’.

Richard Carapaz of Ecuador, centre, who won the gold medal, fist pumps bronze medal winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, as silver medal winner Wout van Aert of Belgium watches, after the men’s cycling road race at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Oyama, Japan. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)


During a newspaper interview he gave almost 70 years after he clinched a silver medal at the Stockholm Olympics of 1912, mid-distance American runner Abel Kiviat described the race as a “nightmare”.

His silver medal had come after a photo-finish — a first in Olympic history — in which he had just got past fellow American Norman Taber in the 1500m race.

“That race was the biggest disappointment of my life. I never saw Jackson,” he said while referring to Great Britain’s Arnold Jackson who had secured by the slimmest margin of 0.1 seconds. “I wake up sometimes and say, ‘What the heck happened to me?” Kiviat said.

The final moment of 1500 m race in 1912 Games in which Great Britain’s Arnold Jackson beat USA’s Abel Kiviat (third from left) by 0.1 seconds.

Kiviat, who died in 1991, showed that the disappointment of losing out narrowly lingers, but he was no exception in this regard. Most silver medallists end up tormenting themselves by imagining the alternative possibility if they had pushed a little harder.

Ravi Kumar Dahiya, the Indian wrestler who secured a silver medal for India in 57 kg freestyle on Thursday in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, voiced a similar disappointment.

“What’s the point of this?… I had come here with only one target, a gold medal. This (silver medal) is okay, but it’s not gold,” he told reporters.

A 1995 research paper published by psychologists Victoria Medvec, Thomas Gilovich (both from Cornell), and Scott F Madey (University of Toledo) has an answer to why silver medallists may be feeling the way they are.

They studied this phenomenon to conclude that on a happiness scale, silver medallists fair poorly owing to the human tendency to indulge in ‘counterfactual thinking’ — the propensity to think of alternative circumstances to real-life events, especially those with far-ranging consequences.

The study, “When Less Is More: Counterfactual Thinking and Satisfaction Among Olympic Medallists”, deduced that bronze medallists score much better on the happiness scale when compared to silver medallists who had outperformed them in the game.

Mean Happiness Ratings: Bronze medalists fared better on the happiness scale immediately after the event as well as at the medal stand compared to the silver medalists (Medevec et al, 1995)

Medvec and colleagues analysed visible expressions of the bronze and silver medal-winning athletes at the 1992 Summer Olympics immediately after the finish of the event when the winners stood at the medal stand.

The study aimed to determine how counterfactual thinking and the psychology of “coming close” affects the feeling of satisfaction and the degree of well-being. Medvec et al chose the domain of athletic competition outcomes to study the subject because it throws up results with an unusual precision with competitors finishing first, second, or third with a fractional difference and earning distinctly different rewards of gold, silver, and bronze medals.

“We were interested in whether the effects of different counterfactual comparisons are sufficiently strong to cause people who are objectively worse off to sometimes feel better than those in a superior state. Moreover, we were interested not just in documenting isolated episodes in which this might happen, but in identifying a specific situation in which it occurs with regularity and predictability. The domain we chose to investigate was athletic competition,” said Medvec and his colleagues in the paper published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Also Read |Tokyo 2020: When pocketing the silver medal was not the right thing to do

As part of the study, the researchers collated the video footage from the Barcelona Olympic Games held three years ago and edited them in three different master tapes. One showed the medallists’ reaction immediately after the results were announced, another showed them receiving the medals at the stand, and a third one comprised of the interviews they gave to media persons about their performance.

In the first study, the university students, who were blind to the results, were asked to judge the immediate reaction of 41 athletes on a 10-point ‘agony to ecstasy’ scale. After assessing athletes’ reactions, silver medallists received a mean rating of 4.8 while bronze medallists received a mean rating of 7.1 on the happiness scale. When examining the athletes’ reaction on the medal stand, participants assigned the bronze medallists a mean rating of 5.7 and a 4.3 for silver medallists.

In the second part of the same study, the participants reviewed television interviews of 22 silver and bronze medallists to see what was the predominant feeling expressed by each athlete: Was he/she happy with what was achieved, or was he/she preoccupied with a feeling of regret. The participants judged the expressed feelings on a 10-point scale which had “At least I…” on one end and “I almost…” on the other.

It was found that the silver medallists focused more on “I almost” than bronze medallists who expressed a feeling of achievement and satisfaction for getting a medal. Participants assigned silver medallists’ thoughts an average rating of 5.7 and bronze medallists’ an average rating of only 4.4 on the 10-point “At least I… ” to “I almost…” scale.

Explaining the findings, the researchers wrote, “To the silver medallist, the most vivid counterfactual thoughts are often focused on nearly winning the gold. Second place is only one step away from the cherished gold medal and all of its attendant social and financial rewards. Thus, whatever joy the silver medallist may feel is often tempered by tortuous thoughts of what might have been had she only lengthened her stride, adjusted her breathing, pointed her toes, and so on. For the bronze medallist, in contrast, the most compelling counterfactual alternative is often coming in fourth place and being in the showers instead of on the medal stand.”

Social psychologists have long held that an individual’s wellbeing in any given circumstance depends on how these circumstances compare with those with whom he tends to compare them.

Such counterfactual thinking also has a functional value as those who ruin their happiness by thinking about the missed opportunity often strive to improve their future performances.

“Downward comparisons (i.e., thinking about a worse outcome) are thought to provide comfort, whereas upward comparisons (i.e., thinking about a better outcome) are thought to improve future performance. Indeed, it has been shown that people who expect to perform again in the future are more likely to generate upward counterfactuals than those who expect to move on,” said the study.

(This article appeared on the indianexpress.com as Why a bronze medal winner often looks happier than a silver medallist at the Olympics on August 13, 2021)

Dilip kumar’s jugnu & the moral panic in newly independent india.

While the masses loved it, the elite were riled up by Jugnu’s provocative framing of sexuality and depiction of college as a space for free intermingling of sexes. Several provincial governments banned the film, forcing the distributors to chop it drastically to rid it of ‘vulgarity’.

The singing star Noor Jehan’s depature for Pakistan with her husband Shaukat Hussein Rizvi, who was the producer-director of Jugnu, may have contributed to lack of sympathy for the film among decision makers in India.


Jugnu (Firefly, 1947) was an important film in many respects. It was the first box office success for Dilip Kumar, then a newbie in the industry, and the last film of singing star Noor Jehan before she permanently left Bombay for Karachi. Jugnu was peculiar in another regard. It was among a few films that were conceptualised and made in pre-independence India but were released in theatres after the dawn of Independence and the pain of Partition.

The response to Jugnu – the love it received from the masses, the ‘moral panic’ it evoked among the elite, and the punitive action it invited from the young government – was an outcome of the time of transition that the country was going through. It also set the tone for the censorship project that Independent India would embark on –aiming to protect the ‘fragile morality’ of the ‘gullible masses’ – and continues to obsess itself with even today.

The present-day audience would likely judge Jugnu as a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy (which like many latter films of Dilip Kumar ends in a tragedy) that ticks some boxes and misses a few. The film produced and directed by Shaukat Husain Rizvi, then-husband of Noor Jehan, has a simple story. Dilip Kumar’s Suraj and Noor Jehan’s Jugnu study in separate colleges located on the same campus and fall in love. Jugnu is an orphan and Suraj is the only son of an ostensibly rich raisaheb who has accumulated debt. The family has planned to marry Suraj to a girl from a wealthy family hoping to receive dowry that will end their financial troubles. The circumstances mean that the lovers can’t marry each other and must feign unfaithfulness. The mutual heartbreak, ultimately, leads the couple to their tragic ends.

Those against the film objected to, among other sequences, this scene in which Jugnu and Suraj indulge in a flirtatious chit chat hiding behind a sofa in the latter’s home.

Although a mixed bag in terms of performances, the film is salvaged by the comedic episodes in the first half and a couple of good songs in the latter.

While the newspaper advertisements from the time tell us that the film, branded as ‘The Song of the Youth’, was celebrating ‘Silver Jubilees’ in multiple cities, it was also evoking an adverse response from the elite for depicting ‘college’ as a place of the intermingling of the sexes, and its provocative framing of youthful sexuality. It portrayed Indian youngsters as carefree romantics for whom the only thing that mattered was the success and failure in love.

Another topic of contention, repeatedly raised by its critics, was its depiction of a romance between the ladies’ hostel matron, played by Ruby Myers, and a professor from the boys’ college. There were still others who blamed it for slandering India’s higher education institutions by not focussing at all on learning activities that, ideally, should go on in a college.

The song ‘Loot Jawani Phir Nahin Aani’ performed by Latika in the film as part of the college drama was a major point of criticism. Many objected to the lyrics as well as “vulgar”, “nude”, “courtesan-like” performance by Latika.

A peek into the archive tells us that popular periodicals like Filmindia were routinely receiving letters from its English speaking readers complaining about Jugnu. While some wondered how such a ‘vulgar film’ was cleared by the Censor Board. Others demanded that it should be re-examined. Readers would reproduce the lyrics of an entire song (Loot Jawani…) to prove their point of Jugnu’s indecency and its portrayal of college girls as ‘courtesans’. Even Indians residing in Singapore and Colombo wrote with angst that the film was spreading the “wrong impression about college life in India”.

“Believe me, Mr Patel. The whole audience was exasperated – barring a few perhaps – when they saw a college girl dancing with the full garb of vulgarity in a drama staged in the college… Patrons of Indian films here like good stories with melodious songs and not historical distortions and semi-nude dances,” wrote M T Piyaseela from Colombo, in a letter published in the October 1948 issue.

Shiv Das Singh, a student from Jodhpur, feared that Jugnu might affect his educational prospects. “What would be the effect on our parents’ minds seeing the film…Will our parents then be ready to allow us to continue our studies further?” he wondered.

After a successful north India run, Jugnu was released at Bombay’s Capitol Cinema on October 1, 1948 but was pulled off the theatre within four weeks “in the midst of its triumphant run” after Filmindia editor Baburao Patel wrote a scathing review headlined ‘Jugnu: A dirty, disgusting, vulgar picture!’.

“Jugnu…tells us that college life in India is nothing more than a long sex hunt in which boys chase girls, explore their hand bags, rob their tiffin boxes and sing suggestive love ditties while making vulgar gestures; while girls sigh about heavily, seduce boys to tea, pimp for their friends, puncture their cycle tyres and sing songs of frustrated love,” Patel wrote in the review, adding, “no decent exhibitor with any pride for his profession or any self-respect should exhibit it in his theatre.”

Interestingly, Patel was Noor Jehan’s neighbour in Oomer Park, Warden Road, Bombay.

In fact, Patel informs us in the review, that he had sent an ‘advanced copy’ of the write up to the then Bombay Home Minister Morarji Desai who watched the film on October 26 and issued a ban three days later under Section 21 of General Clauses Act of 1897. This led to a lot of protests from the film producers and distributors for the ‘arbitrary action’ by the Home Minister on a film already cleared by a ‘full board’ of the censors, but to no avail.

The romance between hostel matron played by Ruby Myers and a professor from boy’s college was a major cause of the films popularity among the youth. It, on the other hand, also added to Jugnu‘s trouble with the government.

After Bombay, several other provincial governments banned the film. The distributor – Bharat Pictures, Akola – was forced to re-submit the film for certification where it was chopped off significantly. Records show that when the film obtained its first Censor certificate from the Bombay Board of Film Certification on July 7, 1947, its total length was 14,093 feet. After revisions made following the ban, it was reduced to 11,559 feet. In terms of the run time, the film lost 28 minutes of its original duration of 156 minutes. The film returned to the screens after a few months in truncated form.

In many ways, the extent of criticism that Jugnu received seems disproportionate to the provocation contained in the film. This response can be understood in two contexts. Firstly, the elite discourse in the newly-Independent India was focused on ‘nation building’, a project that would require the energies and services of the youth. Jugnu’s celebration of youngsters as carefree lads inclined to shrug off responsibility in favour of romantic pursuits did not go well with the government and others with a say.

Secondly, the decision by the film’s female lead Noor Jehan and producer-director Rizvi to choose Pakistan over India left little sympathy for them and their product among the Indian elite. For example, in its review of Jugnu, Patel made a misplaced and far-fetched connection between director Shaukat Rizvi and Qasim Rizvi, the head of extremist, separatist Razakar movement in Hyderabad.

In the pages of Filmindia, which was the most powerful film magazine at the time, Muslim filmmakers who were travelling between India and Pakistan in the fog of the Partition (some of which decided to stay back in India) are repeatedly referred to as ‘fifth columnists’ who need to be watched to ensure that “they do not use the powerful medium of the films” for nefarious purposes.

“The censors must watch carefully such anti-social and anti-religious activities of these fanatic producers who live with us to stab us from day to day,” warns an editorial in the November 1948 issue of Filmindia.

Notwithstanding the legal and circumstantial impediments, Jugnu went on to become one of the biggest films of the time and launched Dilip Kumar’s career in the true sense. In fact, it was a large poster of Jugnu put up in Bandra that broke the news to Ghulam Sarwar ‘Agha’, the fruit seller from Peshawar, that his son Yusuf had entered the film business and had become a star.

(This story appeared on indianexpress.com as ‘How Dilip Kumar’s Jugnu lost 28 minutes to confused morality of a young India’ on July 17 2021)

Maharashtra: Death registration system in shambles, data reporting for 2020 still incomplete

Slight rise in mortality in state in 2020; marked uptick in Pune, Mumbai hints at uncounted Covid deaths


As the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, the extent of loss of life caused by the virus remains contested. There have been claims – by politicians and infectious diseases experts – that the number of deaths caused by the pandemic could be many times higher than the officially reported numbers.

One important way to arrive at a more realistic death toll, as per the experts, is to gauge the ‘excess deaths’ recorded in pandemic year after comparing them to pre-pandemic years and factoring in the natural growth trend. For this, deaths registered by the Civil Registration System (CRS) of the state governments act as a reliable data source.

While some states have created dedicated portals for the distribution of certificates and real-time data collection, in Maharashtra the process remains cumbersome. Most agencies responsible for recording births and deaths– municipal bodies or panchayats –send the death registration data to the state authorities manually. This means that the state-level agency, State Bureau of Health Intelligence Vital Statistics, responsible for collecting the data and reporting to the Registrar General of India, completes data collection three months after a calendar year came to an end. It reports the same to the Registrar by end of July, every year.

The Indian Express spoke to officials at the Bureau to find out that, so far, agencies in only 25 districts have submitted the record about the birth and date that happened in the year 2020 in the respective jurisdiction. Data is awaited from 10 other distsricts.

Govardhan Gaikwad, Deputy Director, Health Services, and Deputy Chief Registrar of Birth and Death in the state, says that every year the birth and death reports are sent for publication by end of July. This year, since the receipt of data has slowed down from the agencies issuing the certificates, it may take a bit longer. This means that data pertaining to all-causes deaths registered in the state for 2020 may be available only after a few months, and that pertaining to mortality in the second wave during February-May 2021, can only be available halfway through the next year.

“Government offices of three different types are involved in recording the births and deaths happening in the respective jurisdiction. While some submit the data using online means, most still depend on the manual method. This delays the receipt of the data by us, and we have to process and send it further,” explained Gaikwad.

Although Maharashtra does not have a portal of its own -like Rajasthan’s Pehchan for this purpose – it could use the national portal crsorgi.gov.in.

“Many agencies don’t use the online medium for real-time reporting of the data because it’s not mandatory as per the extant law. Also, some offices may be discouraged by the connectivity issues,” added Gaikwad.

Out of 35 districts in the state, birth and death registration data for only 25 has been recieved by the state Bureau so far. (Picture: Arul Horizon for The Indian Express)

Slight rise in mortality in state in 2020; marked uptick in Pune, Mumbai hinting at uncounted Covid deaths

The data that has been so far compiled by the state CRS shows a slight uptick in the number of deaths in 2020, the year in which the first Covid-19 wave hit the country, when compared with the previous year. The CRS data is not yet available for the more devastating second wave which hit the state between February and May 2021.

However, significantly, cities like Mumbai and Pune, which were the worst affected by the pandemic, show significant ‘excess deaths’ in 2020 when compared with registered deaths in 2019 and 2018.

Data submitted by 25 out of 35 districts to the state CRS shows that 5,78,912 deaths were registered in these districts in 2020. In the previous year, ie 2019 (the pre-pandemic year), these 25 districts had registered 5,16,138 deaths from various causes. (Cumulative deaths in all 35 districts for this year were 6,93,800.)

In 2018, another pre-pandemic year, these 25 districts had recorded 4,88,599 deaths. (Cumulative deaths for all 35 districts for this year were 6,67,900.)

Thus, considering only 25 states for want of data for the entire state, the year 2020 saw 62,774 additional deaths compared to 2019 which, in turn, had seen 27,539 more registered deaths than in 2018.

As per the state health department, a total of 49,521 Covid deaths occurred in the state in 2020. Of these, 35,450 were reported from the 25 districts that we are considering.

Cities like Mumbai and Pune showed a marked increase in the registered deaths during 2020, hinting at the possibility of uncounted Covid-19 deaths.

Mumbai had recorded 88,852 and 91,223 deaths in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The number rose to 1,11,942 in 2020, thus recording a jump of 20,719 deaths over the previous year. As per the Health Department records, Mumbai saw 11,125 Covid deaths in 2020.

In Pune, which had recorded 61,824 and 63,630 deaths in 2018 and 2019 respectively, the CRS recorded 79,683 deaths in 2019. While the rise in recorded deaths was 16,053, the Health Department counted only 7767 Covid deaths in Pune in 2020.

What are democracy & Autocracy waves ? What’s behind the surge of autocratisation across the world?

It was American political scientist Samuel P Huntington who proposed the concept of ‘Waves of Democracy’ and ‘Reverse waves (of autocratisation)’ to map the periods of surges and declines of democracy across the world.

Political scientists say the world is in the grasp of a third wave of autocratisation which is deceptively invisible. The new autocrats have given up on the old tactics of dramatic and violent coups, rather they rely on slow erosion of democratic processes and weakening of institutions that keep a check on their power.


Last month, V-Dem Project (Varieties of Democracy), a Sweden based independent research institute, released its annual democracy report making a key observation that India, the world’s largest democracy, has turned into an ‘electoral autocracy’.

Apart from this humiliating demotion of India, which has invited the ire of the Narendra Modi government, the report points to an accelerated autocratisation in several countries including United States, Brazil and Turkey that indidcate a trend that decline of democracy has hastened globally.

As per the report, 87 countries are now electoral autocracies that are home to 68 per cent of the global population. Liberal democracies, the group says have diminished and are home to only 14 per cent of the people.

The report says that with the backsliding of democracy in Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen in 2020 is down to levels last found around 1990.

This decline in democracy is, the report says, is part of the “third wave of autocratization” accelerates – 25 countries, home to 34% of the world’s population (2.6 billion people), are in democratic decline by 2020. At the same time, the number of democratizing countries drop by almost half down to 16 that are home to a mere 4 per cent of the global population.

What are the waves of democratisation?

The concept ‘Democracy Wave’ was first introduced by the American political scientist Samuel P Huntington in his book ‘The Third Wave’ published in 1991. In the book, he argues that since the early nineteenth century, there has been three major surges of democracy as a political systems and two brief periods of decline. He calls the surges as ‘waves of democracy’ and the ebbs as the ‘reverse waves.’

Huntington defines a ‘wave of democracy’ as the “transition of a group of nations from non-democratic to democratic regimes during a specified period of time in which such transition to democratic regimes are significantly outnumbered by transitions in the opposite directions”.

As per Huntington, the first ‘long’ wave of democratization began in the 1820s, with the widening of the suffrage to a large proportion of the male population in the United States, and continued for almost a century until 1926, bringing into being 29 democracies including France, Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy and Argentina.

He argues that this ‘long and slow wave’ was followed by a ‘reverse wave’ leading to weakening of democratisation process. Between Mussolini’s rise to power in 1922 and 1942, the number of democratic states in the world to was brought down to a mere 12.

The triumph of the Allied Fources in World War II initiated a second wave of democratization taking the number of democratic countries to 36 by 1962. This was, says Huntington in the book, was followed by a second reverse wave (1960-1975) that brought the number of democracies back down to 30.

The third wave of democratisation, Huntington proposes, began with the Carnation revolution in Portugal in 1974 and continued with a number of democratic transition in Latin America in the 1980s, Asia Pacific countries and, saliently, in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He points out that this democratic wave was so strong that in Latin America that out of 20 countries in the continent, only two countries (Cuba and Haiti) remained authoritarian by1995.

A graph from Anna Lührmann and Staffan I. Lindberg ‘s article showing three democratisation waves and three autocratisation waves as defined by Huntington and by them.

In 1991, when he published the book, he observed that there were already sign of commencement of a third reverse wave were already there, with nascent democracies like Haiti, Sudan returning to authoritarianism.

What are waves of Autocratisation?

Following Huntington’s lead, a number of political scientists have used these concepts to explain the ebbs and flows in the march of democracy.

For example, in March 2019, Anna Lührmann and Staffan I. Lindberg published a research article, ‘A third wave of autocratization is here: what is new about it?’ in which they mapped the strengthening and weakening of democracies across the globe in over a century and ‘identified’ a distinct third wave of autocratisation that commenced in 1994.

Luhrmann and Lindberg define an autocratization wave as “the time period during which the number of countries undergoing democratization declines while at the same time autocratization affects more and more countries.”

They used V-Dem’s data on 182 countries from1900 to the end of 2017, or 18,031 country-years to demonstrate the a third wave of autocratisation. They do this by identifying ‘autocritisation episodes’ which push a country away from democratic practices. A total of  the 217 autocratization episodes taking place in 109 countries from 1900 to 2017.

The dates for the first two reverse waves presented by them are very similar to Huntington’s despite the conceptual and measurement differences. As per them during the first reverse wave 1922–1942 a total of 32 autocratisation episodes took place; they identified 62 episode in the second reverse wave between 1960–1975; during the ongoing ‘third wave’ of autocratisation they located 75 episodes starting from 1942 (until 2019).

“By 2017, the third wave of autocratization dominated with the reversals outnumbering the countries making progress. This had not occurred since 1940,” they say in the paper.

“In sum, an important characteristic of the third wave of autocratization is unprecedented: It mainly affects democracies – and not electoral autocracies as the earlier period – and this occurs while the global level of democracy is close to an all-time high. Hence, for now at least, the trend is manifest, but less dramatic than some claim,” they say.

Auotocratisation has become less dramatic!

Political scientists like Micheal Coppedge note that a key contemporary pattern of autocratisation is the gradual concentration of power in the executive, apart from the more “classical” path of intensified repression.

The latest V-DEM report points to an accelerated autocratisation in several countries including United States, Brazil and Turkey that indidcate a trend that decline of democracyhas hastened globally.

Although various observers including V-Dem, Freedom House, point to substantial autocratization over the last decade in countries as diverse as United States, India, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, the democratic breakdowns have become less conspicuous. This, political scientists say, is because the contemporary autocrats have “mastered the art of subverting electoral standards without breaking their democratic façade completely.”

“Democratic breakdowns used to be rather sudden events – for instance military coups – and relatively easy to identify empirically. Now, multi-party regimes slowly become less meaningful in practice making it increasingly difficult to pinpoint the end of democracy,” write Luhrmann and Lindberg.

“A gradual transition into electoral authoritarianism is more difficult to pinpoint than a clear violation of democratic standards, and provides fewer opportunities for domestic and international opposition. Electoral autocrats secure their competitive advantage through subtler tactics such as censoring and harassing the media, restricting civil society and political parties and the undermining the autonomy of election management bodies. Aspiring autocrats learn from each other and are seemingly borrowing tactics perceived to be less risky than abolishing multi-party elections altogether,” they argue.

As per Luhrmann and Lindberg, the ‘erosion model’ has emerged as the prominent tactic in the third wave of autocratisation. The first and second waves, on the other hand, were dominated by blatant methods such as military coup (39% of episodes) or foreign invasion (29%), and by autogolpes, where the chief executive comes to power by legal means but then suddenly abolishes key democratic institutions such as elections or parliaments (32%).

“Democratic erosion became the modal tactic during the third wave of autocratization. Here, incumbents legally access power and then gradually, but substantially, undermine democratic norms without abolishing key democratic institutions. Such processes account for 70% in the third reversal wave with prominent cases of such gradual deterioration in Hungary and Poland. Aspiring autocrats have clearly found a new set of tools to stay in power, and that news has spread,” write Luhrmann and Lindberg.

As per the latest V-DEM report, in 2020, the third wave of autocratisation has accelerated considerably. “…It now engulfs 25 countries and 34 per cent of the world population (2.6 billion). Over the last ten years the number of democratizing countries dropped by almost half to 16, hosting a mere 4 per cent of the global population,” says the report.

Unable to sell flats to intended beneficiaries, PMC moves to allot PMAY(U) flats to PMPML staffers

As per PMC officials, of the total 2918 flats constructed to be allotted under PMAY(U) for deserving poor families, about 850 flats still remain unsold, after two rounds of allotment and opening up for the general public who had not made the application initially.


After failing to find customers from among the common citizens to buy the flats constructed by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) under Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana -Urban (PMAY-U), the civic body has now decided to allot the about 850 unsold flats to the staffers of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML).

As per PMC officials, of the total 2918 flats constructed to be allotted under PMAY(U) for deserving poor families, about 850 flats still remain unsold, after two rounds of allotment and opening up for the general public who had not made the application initially.

Of the three sites – namely, Hadapsar, Kharadi and Vadgaon Khurd – most of the unsold flats are at Hadapsar (three proposed buildings in Hingane Mala) and Vadgaon Khurd areas.

The unsold flats will now be allotted to PMPML staffers and the civic body has also received about 1300 applications from the hopefuls, of which 661 applications were found eligible for allotment.

“There are about 150-200 applications of the PMPML staffers which have minor deficiencies and can become eligible for allotment after we receive supplementary documents,” said Dinesh Rokade, Joint-Director in-charge of implementation of PMAY (Urban) in PMC.

Under Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) vertical of PMAY(U), PMC has taken up the development of five housing projects comprising of 2,918 apartments at three different locations in the city namely Hadapsar, Kharadi and Vadgaon Khurd. When the civic body started receiving the applications in 2017, over 40,000 hopefuls from EWS families had applied to benefit from the scheme. In October 2020, PMC announced the first list of beneficiaries by drawing a lottery, and asked them to book the homes – cost ranging between Rs 8.4 lakh to Rs 10.2 lakh – by paying 10 per cent booking amount within a month. However, at the end of this period, only 731 individuals claimed the homes (although about 1400 of them had collected the provisional allotment letters from the PMC) while the rest gave the opportunity a pass.

On December 7, the PMC published another list of 2187 fresh allottees from the waiting list. By January 6, when the deadline to book the home came to an end, only 357 of them had booked the offered home.

At the end of the second round of allotment by the end of January 2021, a total of 1830 homes still remain unbooked as allottees did not come forward to book the flat by paying 10 per cent of the cost.

Following this, the PMC opened up the homes to anyone who fulfils the EWS criteria (income less than 3 lakh per annum and not owning a house anywhere in Maharashtra) and had not applied to benefit under the scheme. Even after the end of this round, about 850 apartments remained unbooked.

Pune: 62% PMAY homes remain unbooked after second round of allotment

As reported by The Indian Express earlier, under the vertical of affordable housing in partnership (AHP) under PMAY(U), the PMC has taken up the development of five housing projects comprising 2,918 apartments at three different locations in the city, namely Hadapsar, Kharadi and Vadgaon Khurd.

A beneficiary who has been picked through the lottery drawn by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) at the construction site in Kharadi. (Photo Credit: Atikh Rashid)

HOUSES BEING constructed by the PMC under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) for economically weaker families are finding few takers. At the end of the second round of allotment, as many as 1,830 houses have still not been booked as allottees selected via the lucky draw have not come forward to book the flat by paying 10 per cent of the cost.

As reported by The Indian Express earlier, under the vertical of affordable housing in partnership (AHP) under PMAY(U), the PMC has taken up the development of five housing projects comprising 2,918 apartments at three different locations in the city, namely Hadapsar, Kharadi and Vadgaon Khurd.

When the civic body started receiving applications in 2017, more than 40,000 hopefuls from economically weaker families applied for the scheme. In October 2020, the PMC announced the first list of beneficiaries by drawing a lottery, and asked them to book the homes –ranging between Rs 8.4 lakh and Rs 10.2 lakh – by paying 10 per cent of the booking amount in a month. At the end of this period, however, only 731 applicants claimed the homes, although about 1,400 of them collected the provisional allotment letters from the PMC). The rest gave the opportunity a pass.

On December 7, the PMC published another list of 2,187 fresh allottees from the waiting list. By January 6, when the deadline to book the home ended, only 357 of them booked the offered home. Thus, at the end of two rounds, 1,830 (62 per cent) were not allotted.

According to officials, most of the dwelling units (DU) that have not been booked are at three sites in Hadapsar’s Hingane Mala. In this area, which already has over a dozen slum rehabilitation buildings and do not have proper access roads, the PMC is constructing 1,024 DUs in three different projects.

Also, unlike the two other sites, namely in Kharadi and Vadgaon Khurd, the work has not physically commenced and allottees are finding it difficult to envisage how the building and the apartment would look. At these sites, however, beneficiaries are visiting the ongoing work and can take a look at the sample flat and possible amenities in the building and the locality.

“Most of the apartments that have not been booked are from the Hadapsar sites,” said a staffer at the PMC’s PMAY(U) cell.

While the allottees of the two other sites are satisfied, the difficulty in getting a home loan is proving to be an issue for many families, especially in those where the income comes from unorganised sectors. Major banks are turning them away for lack of income proof, compliance with income tax rules and good credit history and private finance firms are charging a hefty interest rate.

A rickshaw driver, who has been allotted a home in the Kharadi project, said, “Nationalised banks charge 6.9 per cent interest on home loans. They are refusing us loans for lack of documentary evidence of income, and the interest rates offered by private finance companies are too high – ranging from 9 per cent to 12 per cent. These firms are also notorious for harassing and abusing customers even if there’s a minor issue in repayment. Considering everything, I’m confused if I should go ahead and book the home or let it go.”

Dinesh Rokade, joint-director in-charge of PMAY(U) in the PMC, said Additional Commissioner Rubal Agarwal held a meeting with representatives of nationalised banks, requesting them to make the process of getting loan easier for EWS beneficiaries.

“The bank officials, however, conveyed that they are bound by guidelines of RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and won’t be able to lend to those without requisite documentation or with default on a previous loan,” said Rokade.

Rokade said the civic body was considering giving another chance to applicants in the primary list or the waiting list but could not make the booking within the deadline due to logistical reasons. “We are still compiling the lists of allotments and vacancies and, once that gets finalised, senior officials will take a call in this regard,” he added.

While PMAY(U) beneficiaries suffer, state & central agencies Caught up in war of words

The correspondence between Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), obtained by The Indian Express using the RTI, shows that there has been little progress towards resolving the issue although both the agencies acknowledge that poor families are badly suffering due to the delay in release of central subsidy.

Naseem Bano, a widow from Parbhani district, is among the PMAY(U) beneficiaries who are awaiting release of the central subsidy to complete the construction of their houses. (Pic: Atikh Rashid)

As Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Urban) beneficiaries in Maharashtra, especially those from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), continue to suffer due to the delay in the release of central subsidy, the state and central agencies are blaming each other, documents obtained by The Indian Express under the Right To Information Act show.

As reported by the Express earlier, a total of 2.19 lakh houses have been sanctioned in the state under Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) vertical of PMAY(U), in which each beneficiary family receives Rs 1.5 lakh from the Centre and Rs 1 lakh from the state.

In Maharashtra, of the total sanctioned houses since 2016-17, only 18,665 have been completed, while construction of 63,415 is stuck in various stages owing to non-release of subsidy funds by the Centre. In most cases, the construction has reached up to lintel level and the dwelling units are standing roofless.

In the remaining 1.2 lakh sanctioned cases, no progress has been seen despite the release of the first instalment of funds. This state officials reckon, could be because of financial hardships caused by Covid-19 to the EWS families, who may have diverted the funds towards basic needs.

As reported earlier, many BLC beneficiaries in the state, who had started the construction a year or two ago, have given up hope of finishing the work, owing to the prolonged delay in the release of Rs 1.5 lakh central subsidy. They have laid old tin sheets over the newly constructed walls so they can move in. In the most precarious condition are those who had demolished an existing kutcha house and had moved into a rented home.

Express spoke to many such families in Parbhani, Hingoli and Beed districts, who have spent a considerable amount on rent and are now repenting their decision to demolish the existing house in the hope of a better house.

While both the agencies – the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the nodal agency for implementing PMAY(U) in the state – told the Express that the delay was caused by the pendency in the submission of Utilisation Certificates (UCs) by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and the issue will soon be resolved, documents obtained under RTI Act show that the two agencies have been corresponding since March 2020, but the issues causing the delay in the release of pending funds are far from resolved.

Letter from Maharashtra Principal Secretary (Housing) SVR Srinivas to PMAY(U) Mission Director Amrit Abhijat on November 2 2020.

On March 4 2020, Rishi Kumar (Director-HFA-IV) had written to Sanjay Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Housing), Maharashtra, informing him that senior officials in MoHUA and Finance Ministry were in favour of halting the release of central funds in light of non-submission of UCs by states for funds released earlier.

The MoHUA followed up on October 7, 2020, when Amrit Abhijat, Mission Director, Housing For All, wrote to SVR Srinivas, Principal Secretary (Housing), Maharashtra. “So far, an amount of Rs 803.55 crore has been released to Maharashtra against which we have received UCs for Rs 127.16 crore only. As per General Financial Rules, UCs for amounts released prior to 31.3.2019 have become due and without the receipt of these, further release of funds is held up,” wrote Abhijat.

In his response dated November 2, Srinivas blamed the MoHUA for not following PMAY(U) guidelines, and releasing only a part of the amount it owes to the state towards the first instalment of houses sanctioned under BLC and AHP (Affordable Houses in Partnership) and ISSR (In-Situ Slum Rehabilitation) components in the state. He said that since ULBs were busy in Covid-19 management for the better part of the year, they should be given time to submit the pending UCs.

As per him, with a total of 7.40 lakh dwelling units sanctioned in the state under BLC, AHP and ISSR components of PMAY(U), the state should have received 40 per cent (Rs 4433 crore) of the total subsidy amount for these DUs as the first instalment.

“Contrary to the PMAY (U) guidelines, instead of releasing the entire first instalment of Rs 4,433 crore which is due to the state, the MoHUA has insisted the utilisation certificates for the 70 per cent for the partial amount released from the first instalment,” wrote Srinivas.

He said that the state government has been receiving demands from ULBs for release of pending funds and delay in the release of funds has caused “unrest among the beneficiaries”, especially those from EWS sections.

On December 18, Abhijat wrote back, reiterating that the state government will have to submit UCs worth Rs 324.87 crore to MoHUA before further funds are released. By this time, the UCs received by MoHUA had gone up to Rs 211.94 crore (from Rs 127 crore in March 2020). In this letter, Abhijat raised several other fresh compliance issues, including AADHAR seeding of the beneficiaries into the PMAY(U) portal, action taken report on the recommendation of the third party quality monitoring agencies, geo-tagging of the current stage of the constructions, among others.

“Therefore, I would request that all thus compliances may be done as soon as possible and come up with the proposal to release further funds to the state,” wrote Abhijat.

When reached for a comment, officials with MoHUA and MHADA, requesting not to be named, said that they were working to resolve the issues at the soonest.

Financial troubles, tiny houses: Why many PMAY allottees rejected the home offer

In October 2020, PMC had alloted affordable houses being constructed under PMAY(U) to 2,918 poor families but only 731 of them claimed them. Now PMC has announced names of 2,187 fresh allottees urging them to book the unclaimed homes.


In August 2017, Babaram Bhagne (53), a helper at an automobile spare parts shop in Nana Peth, was among the 40,000 hopefuls from economically weaker families who had given applications to claim low cost homes being built under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) in Pune city.

In October 2020, he was among the happy club of 2,918 applicants who were declared ‘winners’ to get the homes being built by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) with assistance from private builders at five different locations in the city.

Two months later, he is one of the 2,187 individuals who have decided to let go of this ‘opportunity’. On Monday, PMC’s PMAY (U) cell posted a list of new ‘winners’ from the waiting list who will now have a chance to lay claim over the homes that remained unclaimed in the first round.

“On the day our name was announced in the lottery, we were told to pay up Rs 1.02 lakh (10 per cent of the total price of the apartment) within a month. I had no income from March to October 2020 as the automobile shop I work for was shut due to the lockdown. It was extremely difficult for me to arrange the sum within such a short time,” said Bhagane, who presently stays in a rented home in Sukhasagar with wife, a son and a daughter. He said that getting a housing loan for payment of the total cost (pegged at Rs 9.67) lakh was difficult due to break in employment.

But that wasn’t the only reason he let go of the home offer. “At 350 square feet carpet area, the apartment is too small for my family. My son has finished his graduation this year and very soon we will start thinking about his marriage. Once our family expands, this house will be too tiny for us. Hence, we thought and decided that instead of taking a loan to pay for this small flat, we will wait for an opportunity to buy a bigger home once my son starts earning,” said Bhagane.

The houses are being built for economically weaker sections (EWS) under Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) component of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Under this component, the central and state assistance is provided to housing projects where 35 per cent homes are reserved for EWS customers and are made available to them at an affordable rate.

Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had announced eight projects under AHP in August 2017 and has also invited applications from EWS families. Of these, five projects progressed and in October 2020 PMC drew lotteries to determine the beneficiaries who would get the opportunity to buy low cost 2,918 apartments from the pool of 40,000 applications that it had received.

The five housing projects are located in Hadapsar, Survey No. 106A (340 homes), Kharadi (786), Vadgaon Khurd (1108), Hadapsar, Survey No.89 (584), and Hadapsar, Survey No.106A12 (100). Each dwelling unit is a 1BHK (bedroom, hall & kitchen) apartment with a carpet area of about 350 square feet.

As per officials at PMC’s PMAY(U) Cell, not all allottees who didn’t lay their claim over the homes found the offer unattractive or were not able to pay up the booking amount. “We had accepted the applications in 2017 and the lottery was drawn full three years later in October 2020. Many may have changed the contact numbers and did not get our messages. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, many may have also moved out of the city and did not see lists of the winners published in the newspapers. We were receiving calls and personal visits of such people after November 23 but we could not consider their requests as it would have been unjust to those in the waiting list,” said Dinesh Rokade, Joint-Director for PMAY(U) implementation in PMC areas.

Financial incapability, however, remains a recurring theme among the allottees, including those who have laid a claim and paid up the first installment. “It’s beyond my comprehension why they had to make the allottment in the thick of the lockdown,” said Satvashila Bhosale, a domestic worker who stays in Yerwada area. “My husband who worked in a Titan shop lost his job during the lockdown and now banks are refusing to give us a loan. We are in a big trouble since we don’t want to lose the money we have already paid,” she said.

To help the allottees secure a bank loan, the PMC has set up home-loan stalls in its premises where housing finance companies and loan consultancies are guiding the allottees with loan procedure and accepting applications if they find them eligible. “Problem with most of the allottees is that they already have borrowed from banks and have unpaid loans on their accounts. Most have very poor credit history. In fact, some of them availed personal loans to pay the first installment for PMAY home which reflects poorly on their financial health. This makes them very weak loan candidates,” said a DSA (direct selling agent) present at the spot.

Rokade said that the PMAY(U) cell at PMC is learning from its mistakes earlier and the future AHP projects (five of them are being planned) will take into accounts the issues faced by the allottees and make the allottment process quicker and more accessible to the EWS families.