The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which has not yet given the allotment letters to the over 300 Muslim families it displaced from Kalyannagar in November last, is reluctant now to give them homes in the Sayajipura under JNNURM scheme, leaving the families in the lurch.
The VMC had conducted the draw for the EWS homes in Sayajipura for 340 families on April 8, under intense pressure, and later faced protests from the residents and builders on the prospect of Muslims moving into the Sayajipura neighbourhood.
After committing to relocating the families to Sayajipura on Tuesday, VMC Commissioner H S Patel offered to work out an “alternative” following “representations” from residents of the area opposing the move of the Muslim families.
Under pressure to keep Muslims out of Sayajipura, the VMC is taking a back step on its word of allotting JNNURM homes to 340 families who have been homeless since the November demolitions.
On a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, young children from Kalyannagar, accompanied by representatives met municipal commissioner, urging him to allot homes by May 1 to the families so that the students are able to enrol themselves in the primary schools in their vicinity for the upcoming academic year.
However, Patel remained non-committal. When residents of Kalyannagar demanded to know the reason behind VMC’s refusal to hand over the official allotment letters to families who have been named in the draw, Patel said, “We have received representations from the other side (Hindu Hitrakshak Samiti, formed by residents of Sayajipura) and we have to consider those.”
Patel told the Kalyannagar residents that the VMC was trying to find an “amicable solution” to the problem as moving the families to Sayajipura had met stiff opposition.
Even as representatives of the family including eminent Muslim activists Professor JS Bandukwala, Zuber Goplani, Shaukat Indori and others demanded a deadline from the VMC regarding allotment letters to families mentioned in the VMC’s draw, Patel told them that the decision of the civic body would be conveyed on April 27 as the buildings were still “under construction”.
The representatives refused budge from the commissioner’s cabin without allotment letters, and were joined by VMC Opposition leader Chandrakant Shrivastav of the Congress, who urged Patel to resolve the matter.
Patel reportedly proposed that the residents consider a change in location, including an option of rebuilding their homes in Kalyannagar. He also offered to give the residents a “rent allowance” for the interim period till the houses were built.
When asked about facing stiff political opposition to the allotment of homes to the families — the draw was conducted in absence of Mayor Bharat Shah on April 8 — Patel told The Indian Express, “We have already conducted the draw but we have to examine all aspects before handing over possession. We have received representations from the people of the area and we are trying to work out a solution.”
Close to 5,500 flats under the JNNURM scheme of the VMC are ready in Kalali. According to the officials of the department, the VMC has run out of all the JNNURM projects sanctioned by the Central government so far. The option of constructing a new scheme, according to the VMC commissioner’s proposal would be under the state government’s housing policy that requires beneficiaries to pay a minimum of Rs 3 lakh for homes.
An official said, “The last of the JNNURM schemes that had been sanctioned by the Central government are in Sayajipura and Kalali, under which the poor do not have to purchase the homes but pay a minimum percentage of the amount. The rest of the housing schemes under the state government schemes are under the affordable housing category, where the minimum amount the beneficiary has to pay is Rs 3 lakh. The rule cannot be changed for the Kalyannagar families.”