Updated: September 8, 2021 5:59:17 pm
As many as 1,400 flats constructed and sold to financially weaker sections of the society at Gharkul in Chikhali by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have come under scrutiny after a recent survey. The PCMC has found gross violations of the norms by the beneficiaries. As a result, some of the beneficiaries are set to lose ownership of these flats. Here is a glance into the project that had given new hope for the poor but has now run into a storm.
What is this project of affordable flats all about?
With flat rates skyrocketing in the industrial city, ordinary citizens like labourers, rickshaw drivers, street hawkers, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, drivers and industrial workers could not afford to own houses. The poor mostly lived in chawls in Pune with meagre incomes. The project at Gharkul was intended for such people and it was planned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
The central government was supposed to provide 50 per cent of the funds, the state government 30 per cent and PCMC the rest. When the project was announced, it generated huge interest from the ordinary citizens of Pimpri-Chinchwad.
How were the flats allocated?
In 2006-2007, it was announced that the poor who had a salary of less than one lakh rupees per year would be eligible for these flats through lucky draws. Each flat measuring around 300 square feet was to be sold at an affordable price of Rs 1-1.50 lakh. The project failed to take off for various reasons. As a result, PCMC said it will have to increase the price of each flat to more than Rs 3 lakh. Finally, when the construction started in 2011, PCMC pegged the price of each flat at Rs 7.76 lakh with beneficiaries paying Rs 50,000 and the rest raised through bank loans. The cost proved no dampener as PCMC was flooded with applications.
It took five years for the project to be completed. In 2016, through a draw of lots, PCMC allotted the flats to 5,888 citizens. The flats had all the basic amenities like electricity, water, drainage and gardens. The administration said that unlike previous projects like the Bhatnagar one, PCMC ensured that the residents got decent flats with a liveable environment.
What were the conditions laid down before the tenants of these flats?
The PCMC, on government recommendations, laid down some strict guidelines before the tenants of these flats. No flat should be sold or rented out within 10 years of being allotted. Civic officials said that since the flats were allotted to homeless people, the beneficiaries were supposed to live in them only.
What violations came to the fore after the recent survey?
Last week, PCMC commissioner Rajesh Patil deputed a team of civic officials led by deputy municipal commissioner Anna Bodade to survey the flats. It revealed that at least two beneficiaries had sold their flats to outsiders, 198 had rented out theirs and more than 1,223 flats had been locked.
What action will PCMC take against the offenders?
Following the survey, PCMC said it will confiscate the flats which were sold. “The beneficiaries are going to lose their flats and their money,” said Bodade. Similar action would be initiated against those who had rented out flats. As for the closed flats, Bodade said they are trying to find out whether they are closed for a genuine reason or not. “It could be possible that the residents have got a job in another city and have shifted there temporarily. But if they have another house and have bought these houses to sell at a higher price, we will initiate suitable action against such beneficiaries. We will be filing police complaints against them for cheating PCMC,” said Bodade.
What will happen to the flats once they are confiscated?
The PCMC administration said that it would make the confiscated flats available to those waiting in line. “We have some 6,000 people waiting to get flats under the project. The confiscated flats would be allotted to them,” said Bodade.