A 29-year-old project, funded by the union government to build houses for the poor, landless and homeless dalits in rural areas of Punjab, has failed to serve the desired purpose.
The two-room houses, most of these in a dilapidated condition and at the verge of collapse due to lack of maintenance, are not being used for residential purpose, but to store fodder, wheat husk or as shelter domestic animals.
The main reason the poor dalits are not using these houses for residential purpose is that these houses were constructed on the outskirts the villages, so most of the beneficiaries were not interested in moving outside the village and live in these houses.
The project has completely flopped in Daudhar village in Moga district. The government had provided houses to the poor people of the village in1985, but no owner of the house has been living there. However, some migrant labour families have occupied some of the houses. No official has also come for inspection of these houses during the last several years.
Venu Parshad of Samastipur district (Bihar), a migrant labourer, told the Hindustan Times that he had been staying with his six family members in this colony for the last eleven years. “I don’t know that who is the owner of the house and where he was staying. I have never seen him. Nobody has also come to me for any enquiry that how I am living in a government colony without permission,” said the migrant labourer.
Jagraj Singh Daudhar, member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, said, “Many scheduled caste people, who had got possession of colony houses 29 years ago, had left the houses due to lack of basic facilities and they have constructed new houses at other places.
However, the villagers have spent money from their pockets and provided a motor pump in the colony for migrant families,” he said. A Balvir Kaur has been living in a damaged house in the colony for ten years, but she does not know who allotted her the quarter.
She said that there is no facility of electricity and pure drinking water; however, children and elderly people are drinking polluted water because they have no other alternative.
Tehal Singh, another resident of Daudhar, who has been living in the colony for the last 19 years, said that the government had allotted a 4-marla land to my father. “We constructed two rooms and a kitchen on our own, but no one has listened to our demand for basic facilities in the colony,” said Tehal Singh.
Deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind said, “I will seek a report from the panchayat department with immediate effect. I will also send the SDM of the area to collect facts.”