Bhopal: In gas tragedy victims’ scramble for housing, touts see a fortune
There was total chaos at the directorate of Bhopal gas relief and rehabilitation on Friday as thousands of gas victims poured in to submit applications for the Central government’s housing-for-all scheme implemented by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Middlemen were seen selling application forms for Rs 10 to Rs 100 and charging money from victims for filling the forms as many were unable to fill the forms on their own. Even tea vendors were seen selling the application forms.
Due to a huge crowd at the office at Shivaji Nagar, the road leading to the office was overcrowded due to which traffic in the area had to be halted for several hours.
Sixteen counters had been set up at the office for receipt of applications. Plastic drums were also kept near the counters, in which the victims had to put their applications in case there was huge crowd at the counters.
However, most people preferred to submit the forms at the counters.
According to a notice put by the BMC, houseless and married Bhopal gas victims had to submit their applications by August 26. It said given the huge number of applicants, people can continue to submit applications online.
Pooja Chauhan from Pushpa Nagar said she bought the application form for Rs 100. “I didn’t know some were selling it for Rs 10. Victims like us jump at every opportunity if there is even a little chance of getting some relief or help from the state government,” she said.
Another gas victim, Sunita Panthi from Old Bhopal’s Chhola area, said they had to attach copies of documents like identity card, aadhar card and documents related to receipt of Rs 25,000 by them earlier. “But we were not provided any receipt for the applications. We were told that we will get an SMS related to the receipt of our application.”
KG Tiwari, director of gas relief and rehabilitation department, told HT that a large number of applications had been received, which were being counted by the officials. “We will verify the applicants whether they are gas victims or not. After that, the BMC will consider them for housing under its scheme.”
Bhopal gas activist Rachna Dhingra said there was no clarity when, where and to how many the housing would be provided. “It was in 2008 that the MP government sent a `40 crore proposal to the Union ministry of chemicals to construct houses for 2,500 gas affected families in Bhopal.”
The proposal was approved in 2010. But then state government told the Central government that only 879 houses could be built in Rs 40 crore. “We wrote to the Union chemicals ministry about this issue. Six years down the line, the BMC suddenly invited applications from the gas victims on August 11 and since August 13, they have been submitting their applications and many touts are selling them forms for various rates,” she said
Madhya Pradesh Nagrik Adikar Sangarsh Samiti leaders M Hanif Khan and Ashfaq Nadeem said given the large number of victims, there was a total chaos. “The BMC should have set up the counters in the respective wards to avoid this chaos. The government should extend the last date for submitting the applications.”