PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi on Thursday handed over one lakh houses built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna through a video-conference linking beneficiaries spread across 24 districts of Gujarat.
From Jujwa village in Valsad, he handed over 1,15,551 houses constructed under the ambitious housing scheme in his home state.
“With the festival of Raksha Bandhan approaching there can be no better and bigger gift than the gift of houses in their own names for my mothers and sisters across the state…,” he told the beneficiaries who were huddled in different locations as part of the event described as ‘e-Grihapravesh’ .
The Prime Minister’s speech underlined his success in introducing transparency, and his questions to the audience highlighted his efforts to fight corruption. “Did anybody take any bribes? Did the entire sum (assistance) go to your account,” he asked a woman beneficiary In Rajkot’s Jamkandorna village.
“Seeing this you all must also be wondering, how can a government scheme like the PMAY build such good houses? This is possibly only because the kickback company has shut down,” he said.
In Kutch’s Naliya village, Hansaben Bhanushali told Modi how their new homes “were very nice and had vilayati naliya (foreign-made roof tiles)”. At this, Modi said in jest, “You must be saying that for the sake of it… You Kutch walas prefer everything foreign.” He then asked her if she was being prompted to say what she was saying from those sitting behind her.
“Gujarat has nurtured me and helped me grow and gave me the strength to dream about a country with houses for every family by 2022. Till now news was about houses and interiors of houses of ministers. But now news will be about houses of the poor,” he said.
As the cameras zoomed in to the house-warming rituals outside the newly built homes, panning to a group of women, the event anchor listed out as many as 14 castes of the beneficiaries. The longest list was that of Porbandar, which got 281 houses at the cost of Rs 4.20 crore.
The camera zoomed in to Mohabatpara village, Porbandar: “In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Porbandar’s Mohbatpara village where Mer, Vadi, Rabari, Brahmin, Patel, Kumbhar, Ahir, Vanand and the minority communities live. These beneficiaries have got their own homes, and they are leading happy lives,” read the anchor from a script in Gujarati.
In Muslim-dominated Nandasan village in Mehsana, the camera panned to the homes with men wearing skull caps seated outside. The homes had slogans like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, and a logo of Swachhata Mission. This new locality has been christened, “Pradhan Mantri Aashiyana Colony”.
Talking to one of the women there, Modi asked if they would educate their daughters and then remarked in jest, when the woman did not respond, “Doesn’t look like you are keen to educate your daughters.” Forty-two residential units (row houses) were built under the scheme here, of which 37 beneficiaries were Muslims and five Devipujaks belonging to the socially and educationally backward class category.
Mehsana’s District Development Officer M Y Dakshini said, “All the beneficiaries are earning their livelihood by selling sundry items on the highway. Almost all of them were deployed in the construction of their houses and were provided wages for it under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.”
“Most of these beneficiaries are Fakir Muslims and they christened the scheme as Pradhan Mantri Aashiyana,” Dakshini added.
In Moti Khokri village of Devbhumi Dwarka, the woman beneficiary greeted the prime minister with a “Jai Bhim”. “Jai Dwarkesh” , replied Modi. This district got 453 homes for Rs 77 crore. In Dahod district’s Dungra village, members of Chaaran Samuday (a nomadic tribe of OBC) interacted with Modi.
Minister for Tribal Development, Tourism, Forest, Women and Child Welfare Ganpat Vasava, who was on stage, told The Indian Express: “The details to be mentioned were given (to the anchor) by the rural development department”. Asked if he briefed her, he said, “Yes, I made her rehearse.” —(With Parimal Dabhi in Ahmedabad)