Delay in payment leaves PMAY beneficiaries in fix

Suhail Bhat

Srinagar, Sept 15: Several Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) beneficiaries in South Kashmir’s Pampore town are awaiting payments to finish house construction, despite funds being released by the concerned district development office two months ago, exacerbating their concerns.
Around 28 people who applied for funds last year are waiting for payment worth Rs 16 lakhs. The Pampore Municipal Committee expects to release funds in the next two weeks for all of the beneficiaries who are at various stages of construction.
“The local elected representative had unnecessarily halted the entire process. He wants to re-verify all of the cases that have already been verified. The funds are otherwise available for distribution,” an official said, adding that the cases had already been verified by a Government district-level committee.
He said that the money was not released in the air but rather after a thorough inspection by a three-member committee comprised local Municipality’s Executive Officer, UDAK district officer, and local and district Revenue officials.
“The officials approved the cases after scrutinizing all the parameters, which range from annual income to land ownership. The money is released in four stages, depending on how far the project has progressed. There are a fewer chances of misappropriation because geo tagging is done at different stages like plinth and lantern,” an official said.
After a four-month delay, a beneficiary who did not want to be identified received her first instalment last year but has not been paid since. The construction could have been completed sooner than two months ago if the second instalment had been given when she applied for it, she said.
“When our house was brought down for reconstruction, we initially rented a place. We had to move into a shed on the construction site because we could not pay the rent,” a beneficiary said.
She added they had hoped that PMAY would be a big help, but the payment delay has made it even more inconvenient. “We have applied for a loan so that we can finish the main construction work and move in before the winter. We cannot afford school textbooks or house construction because we have not been paid during the lockdown,” she explained.
Out of 135 beneficiaries, 75 cases were approved by the State level monitoring and sanctioning committee and the Central level appraisal committee in Pampore. The Central Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has also released funds for all of the cases, but the implementation of this Centrally Sponsored Scheme is being hampered by undue delay and interference from local representatives.
Executive Officer of the Pampore Municipality Committee, Iqbal Ahmad, told Excelsior that the funds would be disbursed soon. “In a few days, the money will be released. We are also preparing DPRs for the pending cases,” he said.