Besides lack of political will and several formalities for land acquisition, houses for dalits and below poverty line (BPL) people are still a dream for hundreds of families in the Mandi district.
The government has to build small houses or provide financial aid to financially weaker sections under the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojna (RGAY) and Jawaharlal Nehru Shahari Navinikaran Awas Yojna (JNSNAY). But, in some cases funds are not available, whereas the others are locked between political rivalry or fighting between councilors out to take credit of the scheme to convert it into the vote bank later on.
Under the JNSNAY, the total 208 houses would have been constructed in Sundernagar and 104 houses in Sarkaghat sub-division area, but after going through long paper formalities, Sundernagar Municipal Committee (MC) could construct only 65 houses in last two years.
Interestingly, rest of the 143 applicants could get first installment recently after waiting for more than two years.
In Mandi town area, the proposal for construction of houses for Dalit community under the RGAY is running in files from last two years. The issue of constructing houses for dalits and poor people got momentum when Mandi MC demolished a number of dalits houses on the name of unauthorised construction following Himachal high court orders two years ago. But there is little progress and the schemes are still running in files and the poor despite the assurance from chief minister Virbhadra Singh are waiting for the 'legal' shelter.
“The MC lacks staff and it is the biggest hurdle in implementation of the scheme and the crunch of finance discourages its staff who are not sure whether they will get salary next month. Moreover, the urban development department always delays the implementation of welfare schemes for local urban body's employees. The government considers local urban body's employees as second grade employees and never bothers to improve the situation,” said Kuldeep Thakur, state president of local urban bodies employees union.
Thakur said, “Encouragement, facilities, handsome salaries, security of employees convert into development, but here in the state it is just opposite, employees lack facilities at work places, less salaries, no security of health and family if met with an accident, excess work load due to lack of employees are the common feature of urban development agencies in the state and it is all depressing”.
Thakur said that the RGAY and the JNSNAY need single window system for clearance, and houses be completed in stipulated time.