To weed out ‘cut money’, the state panchayat department has asked district magistrates (DMs) to send pictures of houses at every stage of construction under the Bangla Awas Yojana. They have been asked to hold block-level meetings with villagers and recipients of the government scheme.
A notice by the state panchayat and rural development department was sent to district magistrates on September 3, requesting to hold “block-level beneficiary interaction programmes”.
It asked block-level officials to take photographs of government-funded houses, which are to be sent to the department.
Officials were directed to get houses built within the stipulated 120 days under the BAY scheme.
During the interactive session, officials, the notice said, should detail features of the house and material used.
The notice stated that the steps are being taken to “avoid any malpractice or payment of any money to any individual at any stage”.
“Stage-wise pictures are to be taken of each house and sent to us in a proper format. This is done so that we can see that the houses are being constructed in a time-bound manner and without any hassle. There have been complaints that houses are either not completed or in some cases do not exist,” said a senior official of the panchayat department.
“This is done to avoid middlemen and any kind of illegal payment,” the officer added.
On June 18, CM Mamata Banerjee in a meeting with TMC councillors had said a section of elected representatives and leaders had taken “cut money” and asked them to stop the practice. She had also asked them to return the “cut money” that was accepted from people in lieu of availing various government schemes.
The issue snowballed and in almost all districts, people agitated near the houses of TMC leaders, panchayat members and councillors demanding the return of “cut money”.
“Cut money” was allegedly taken from beneficiaries of several central and state government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).