While Anisa Sayyed relaxed in the athlete’s lounge after winning the silver in the 25m air pistol event at the Commonwealth Games at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in Glasgow on Saturday, the 34-year-old’s booming laughter was cut short, albeit momentarily after a question by Rahi Sarnobat, the gold winner from Maharashtra.
Sarnobat asked Anisa, who is also from the state, whether she expected any reward from the Pune Municipal Corporation, considering she was born and brought up in Pune. Anisa’s face darkened for a minute. “I am still waiting for the reward they (PMC) promised me for winning the gold four years ago. This time around, I have only won the silver. Do you think I should even expect anything?” she said.
Anisa who clinched two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi had been promised a 450 square feet flat and a cash reward of Rs 2.99 lakh by the PMC. After follow ups by Anisa and her sister, she was offered a 250 sq feet flat in a slum rehabilitation building in Aundh at a monthly rent of Rs 450. Also there’s no sign of the cash reward.
“My sister who is a policewoman has been running around the PMC almost every week for the last four years, making applications and meeting officials. Earlier, the authorities said they would give me a flat, then they said they will give a 250 square feet flat on rent. We declined to accept the dingy fifth floor flat as the building doesn’t even have a lift and it’s too small for my parents to stay in,” said Anisa.
The same happened to the cash reward.
Anisa’s husband Mubarak Husain said that when they approached the PMC authorities enquiring about the cash reward, they were bluntly told that as the Maharashtra Government has already given a cash reward, there was no need for PMC to do the same.
“It seems to me that all these are tactics to get publicity and nothing else. You announce some reward in front of a dozen media personnel and later quietly tell us that we won’t be given any. We felt quite sad about this behaviour by the PMC,” he said.
Anisa echoes the feeling by saying the PMC shouldn’t have announced the reward. “If they cannot afford to give me money then they shouldn’t have announced it. It is not like I forced them to give me an award.”
Anisa stays in Delhi to be closer to the Karni Singh shooting range and said the latest reason the PMC came up with is she is not a resident of Pune any more. “Now they said since after marriage I have been staying longer in Delhi, I am not eligible for the reward. What sense does that make. Sometimes I wish they shouldn’t have announced anything,” she said, exasperation visible on her face.
A senior official with PMC said that it happens many times that “over-enthusiastic” elected office-bearers make announcements which cannot be delivered. Sayyed’s case is the best example.
“Soon after she won two gold medals, the general body of PMC passed a proposal presented by one of the corporators that a 450 square feet flat will be given to her. The proposal was sent to the administration and the department which is in charge of allocation of flats to the employees. The PMC has a pool of flats allotted under schemes for EWS constructed in PMC limits. However, all the flats are 200 square feet. Also, as per rules, PMC can’t give away a flat to anybody for free. It has to be on rent. When the announcement was made and proposal was passed in the GB, people involved were not aware of these rules,” said the official who did not wish to be named.
The officials said although Anisa and her sister used to frequently visit PMC officials and ran from pillar to post to get the announced reward, the PMC administration was helpless as rules did not allow it to deliver the promised reward.
“She met the then Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal several times and his successor Vaishali Bankar. Finally in January 2013, the administration offered her keys of a 250 square feet flat in the slum rehabilitation building at a monthly rent of Rs 450. This was all PMC could give her as per rules,” said the official.
According to Mubarak, their request to provide Anisa, even if on rent, a 450 sq feet flat as promised and not a 250 sq feet flat presently offered is pending with the mayor’s office.