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Landless Labourers Deprived of Housing Rights

The Centre's housing scheme promises 'housing for all' by 2022. In Maharashtra, the state government has gone one step ahead and declared that they will meet the target by 2019. But this ground report cuts a sorry picture.

Ailyabai is a 60-year-old woman who works as an agricultural labourer, earning a hundred rupees a day; on the days that she can get work, that is. She has not had a proper roof over her head all her life and has no money to build one herself. Ailyabai is a member of a community of 150 landless families who have been running from pillar to post to get proper homes under the government’s housing scheme.

“My house is made of mud, and it is leaking and crumbling, snakes and scorpions can easily get in and there is fear of disease”, she says.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the NDA government’s housing scheme which partly takes off from the previous government’s Indira Awas Yojana, aims to provide housing for all by March 2022. The scheme promises affordable housing with efficient sanitation and electricity and water supply to rural and urban households whose income does not exceed 300,000 rupees. Part of the implementation is being carried out in partnership with private companies.

In Maharashtra, the state Ailyabai is from, the deadline for achieving the targets under the scheme is even more ambitious-- the end of 2019. Kalpana Jawade, the Community Correspondent who reported on the situation of the 150 families says that this is a wishful target which will not be achieved. “I don’t think that the government has a fund crunch to implement the scheme, I think they are simply reluctant”, says Kalpana.

Not all households in the settlement have BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards and some of them have been accidentally categorised in the wrong BPL bracket. The BPL category is broken down into sub-categories in order to make government benefits easily accessible to those who need them the most. Most households in the area Kalpana reported from are eligible for the Antyodaya cards which entitle those enrolled to maximum benefits.

“The sarpanch (village head) has promised that she will try to get houses built for all the families during her term and has initiated the process for at least 30-35 households”, says Kalpana.

Meanwhile, Vandana, another resident of the settlement, feels that the sarpanch and other authorities further up in the hierarchy will not listen to “people like us”.

When Kalpana visited the place in the rains, she saw that the roofs and floors of all the mud homes and wooden homes were damaged and prone to being infested with mosquitoes and other insects, increasing the risk of disease. “Children are particularly vulnerable to diseases. The community also has water problems; there are handpumps but the groundwater level drops in the summer and they have to get water from 2-3 kilometres away from the farms that they work on or they buy water at very high rates”, she adds.

Going back to why Kalpana thinks that the problem is a lack of will on the government’s part, she says that there are people in the village who have been allotted more than one house because they’re influential at the panchayat (village council) or the block level. She thinks that it is also a matter of corruption, “those who already have pucca or concrete homes are unscrupulously availing the benefits and the officials seem to be aiding them.”

Kalpana last visited the sarpanch, Wahida Gaffar, two months ago when she learned that some of the families have been enrolled in the scheme. She now wants to follow up with Gaffar once again, this time with her video report. Help Kalpana and the community get permanent homes by calling Wahida Gaffar at +91-8605924984 and urging her to enrol the households in the scheme with immediate effect.

Video by Community Correspondent Kalpana Jawade

Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV Editorial Team

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