Express News Service
ERODE: Even as beneficiaries are waiting for more than two years for houses to be allotted, most of the 1,072 dwellings in the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements built in three places in Erode, has developed cracks and plaster has started peeling off from the walls. In some buildings, water pipelines and electric wirings are either damaged or stolen as the tenements have become dens for anti-social elements, the beneficiaries complained.
The tenements were built in 1984 at Periyar Nagar, Pudhumai Colony and Karungalpalayam, in 2012-2013, authorities asked the residents to vacate as the structure had dilapidated and were to be demolished. There were 400 houses each in Periyar Nagar and Pudhumai Colony and 272 houses in Karungalpalayam. The residents said they were given Rs 8,000 each to live in rented houses until the new buildings came up. About, nine years later, these families are still waiting for the houses.
The new buildings were constructed at a cost of Rs 125 crore under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme. The cost of each house was estimated to be Rs 10.5 lakh. While the State government has borne Rs 7.76 lakh, the Central government Rs 1.5 lakh, the residents were asked to pay Rs 1.25 lakh.
“After years of delay, construction started only in 2017. It was completed in 2019. When we moved out, the government promised to give us the new houses free of cost. But, now they are asking for Rs 1.25 lakh. We won’t be able to arrange that much amount,” said Baladhandayudham, who lives at a hut near the newly-built structure in Pudhumai Colony.
The residents also complained that the new houses are smaller in size. “The area has been reduced to 288 sq ft which is smaller than the previous one. If we place television and a table in the hall, there won’t be space for two people to sit. The building has developed cracks and water tanks are damaged. Pipes and wirings have also been damaged. How can we live in those damaged houses now?” asked Baskaran, another resident.
Sources said security guards for the three tenements were appointed only after most of the pipelines and wirings had been stolen.
The buildings at Pudhumai Colony and Karungalpalayam are six and seven-storeyed respectively. The below poverty line families wondered how they would be able to maintain the lifts and pay electricity bills.
“There are 6-7 transgenders waiting for their houses in Pudhumai Colony. The government promised us that they wouldn’t ask for money. While we are struggling to feed ourselves every day, how can we pay the Rs 1.25 lakh? Paying the monthly rent of Rs 2,000 itself has been a huge struggle for us,” asked Vijaya, a transgender.
The residents urged officials to allot houses either by drawing lots or by giving preference to elderly and sick people for allotting houses in the first four floors. “Many people associated with political parties have been allocated houses in the lower floors. They will only sell the houses and move elsewhere,” said Vadivu, a 70-year-old woman in Periyar Nagar.
Minister for Housing S Muthusamy said the houses would be allotted soon. Also, the government was considering getting the residents long-term loans that wouldn’t burden them, he added.