With Assembly and Lok Sabha polls looming, the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is banking on the success of its housing scheme to bolster its chances of returning to power in Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu claimed that about 8.70 lakh houses have been given to beneficiaries so far, a feat no other state has been able to achieve.
On February 9 and 10, the Naidu-led TDP government claimed to have beaten its own record by allotting 4 lakh houses built under various state and central schemes. In July last year, the government gave away 3 lakh houses on a single day. In 2017, one lakh houses were given away on Gandhi Jayanthi.
The houses are being built under various schemes by AP State Housing Corporation and AP Township and Infrastructure Development Corporation (APTIDCO) and allotted to BPL families, economically weaker sections, SCs and STs and BCs.
Last week, the government has started registering beneficiaries again to give away another 4 lakh houses this year being built under NTR Rural Housing Scheme and other schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
Most of the Andhra people working in Hyderabad as housemaids, security guards, cab drivers and semi-skilled labour, who earn less than Rs 6 lakh annually, are eligible to receive the house.
Some of the houses are being built by the beneficiaries themselves on pieces of lands owned by them with funds allotted by the state government through banks. When the money is deposited into their accounts, or when they receive a text message on their mobile phones that they have been allotted a house, most of them quit their jobs in Hyderabad and return home to build their houses or complete the formalities to take possession of a house.
The houses are not given for free; beneficiaries have to bear a portion of the cost. For instance, as per the AP Government, the unit cost of a 300 sq feet flat is Rs 5,14,000 of which Rs 3 lakhs is provided by the government as a subsidy while the beneficiary has to pay only the remaining Rs 2,14,000. Of the Rs 3 lakhs subsidy, the AP Government and Central Government give Rs 1.50 lakhs each.
Many beneficiaries are opting for bigger flats by taking bank loans to pay for their portion of the total cost. “The housing programme for rural and urban poor is one the successful welfare schemes of the TDP Government which is creating a lot of goodwill and support for the TDP in the state. CM Chandrababu Naidu wants to make AP a “hut-free’’ state by 2022 by giving houses to all eligible rural and urban poor,’’ says Rural Housing Minister Kalava Srinivasulu.
On February 9, a first-of-its-kind gated community of 4,800 flats built by APTIDCO at Venkateswarapuram in Nellore district was inaugurated. The township has its own primary school, primary health centre, parks, playgrounds, commercial complexes, community hall, underground drainage and a gymnasium. The flats were given away to beneficiaries by CM Naidu.
Srinivasulu told The Indian Express that AP State Housing Corporation built 7,81,954 houses and allotted them since June 2014 till February 20 this year. “The total target is to build 28-30 lakh houses by 2020. So far over 7.80 lakh people have benefitted—they either got funds to build houses on their own or have been allotted flats or tenements,’’ Srinivasulu said.