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.
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.
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.