Lost Houses of Sajwal

In Sajwal, Maharashtra, people are still waiting for promised housing grants. In today’s video, Community correspondent Anand Pagare visits his neighbouring village to explore issues concerning the Indira Awaas Yojana. Started at first as part of the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Scheme in 1985, and then as part of the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, it took an independent form in 1995. Under this scheme, the Government of India provides financial assistance to rural poor in order to build of upgrade their houses. Specifically, the beneficiaries of this scheme are Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe rural families below poverty line, including other minorities. In recent years, the list of beneficiaries has been extended to include families of ex-servicemen killed in action, mentally and physically challenged persons and bonded labourers.  The district panchayats/zilla panchayats/district rural developmental agencies of an area decide the number of beneficiaries, and in Sajwal village, 20 homes must be given financial assistance every year. However, when Anand visited the village, he could not find any houses built with the help of the Yojana. These houses exist on paper, some claiming to have been built in 1995, 16 years earlier; but in tangible form, they are nowhere to be seen.  The villagers are angry and frustrated, as they know that corrupt people in the bureaucracy have falsely put their names in government records and kept the people’s share of money for themselves. The Indira Awaas Yojana claims to have been very successful. Between 2005 and 2009, 60 lakh houses were to be constructed all over India. One survey shows that the Scheme crossed the target and ended up constructing over 71 lakh houses. However, the question that now arises is- How many of these houses actually exist? The beneficiaries of this scheme are minorities of the country. They are voiceless against the government authorities, even if they know that they are being taken advantage of. Anand Pagare told Video Volunteers, “The people of Sajwal village are too scared to confront their panchayat about the matter. They know that the panchayat is at fault, but are worried that if they speak up against them, their lives may be in danger. This is a grave injustice that has taken place.” - Rajyashri Goody

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