The Haryana Housing Board has slapped 3,109 eligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) flat allottes with a penal interest amounting to Rs 29 crore for no fault of theirs. The penalty has been imposed after the allotment of flats got delayed by two years due to a court case alleging illegal beneficiaries in the scheme.
The aggrieved beneficiaries have questioned the Board’s move of penalising them with the interest liability of around Rs 95,000 each despite being eligible and making payment of two installments in time. The penalty means that the prices of the flats will now escalate further.
A BPL beneficiary of a one-bed room flat on the first floor in Kurukshetra housing project, for instance, was issued an allotment letter on May 6, 2013 that the flat would cost him Rs 3,23,200.
Since the beneficiary had deposited an amount of Rs 74,000 in two installments earlier as the registration fee and the required amount after draw of lots, he was asked to deposit Rs 95,561 within 30 days and take possession of the flat. The beneficiary was to pay rest of the amount in monthly installments of Rs 1,487 over a period of 20 years.
Meanwhile, a petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging that flats were alloted to ineligible persons. The court after observing that the Housing Board lacks clear-cut policy stayed the allotment process. The court later vacated the stay on July 28, 2015. But the Kurukshetra Estate Manager issued revised allotment letter to the beneficiary on March 21 this year directing him to deposit Rs 1,85,940, including Rs 94,696 as “interest liability due to non-payment (38 months),” within 30 days. The letter further reads, “failing which allotment will be cancelled after forfeited (sic) 50 per cent of allotment money.” The flat will now cost the “BPL allottee” Rs. 6.19 lakh.
An allottee, who did not want to be identified, said, “When we went to Kurukshetra Estate Manager in 2013, he said we will not be handed over the possession till the case is pending and said it is your will if you want to deposit the money or not .”
Housing Board’s Chief Administrator Arun Kumar Gupta said, “I understand that it becomes uneconomical for the BPL class. I will check it.”
At the same time, he reasoned, “Housing Board is not a profit-making organisation and somebody has to pay for the delay due to case pendency. Either the government pays the Board or it is recovered from the allottees.”
Other Housing Board officials agree that the penal interest has been levied unreasonably on the allottees without their fault and they might find it difficult to get possession. “It is irrational. These are flats for BPL and not for creamy class. But we have to follow instructions from the head office,” said SK Chauhan, Estate Manager, Kurukshetra.
Housing Board records reveal that except 531 flats in Kurukshetra, 405 in Yamuna Nagar and 55 in Amravati which were completed in 2013, completion report of 10 such projects for BPL class came earlier this year but beneficiaries of these flats have also been slapped the penal interest from a back date. Housing Board headquarter in Panchkula has recently sent files to 13 Estate Managers at various stations for allotment of 3,109 BPL flats adding penal rent liability . These are Dharuhera, Karnal, Fatehabad, Sirsa, Amravati, Narwana, Kurukshetra, Yamuna Nagar, Sonepat, Panipat, Ratia and Jhajjar.
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