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.