PUNE: A month after Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) announced beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), only 241of the 2,900 named have completed the booking process for their new homes. Most of the others are struggling to cough up the initial 10 per cent amount they’re required to, to do the booking.

But now, the deadline for paying up is upon them, with the civic body officials insisting that beyond November 23, the allotment will be cancelled as other waitlisted candidates will then be given an opportunity to get the affordable houses under the scheme.

As it happens, the application for the housing scheme under which PMC is to build 2,900 houses at five different locations in the city, was collected almost two years ago. However, it was only a month ago the beneficiaries were picked through a lottery system.

In a clear reflection of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s economic status, only 1,500 of the people selected collected the challan for making the initial deposit. Job losses, pay cuts and loss of livelihood all around have tied down the beneficiaries from claiming the allotment come their way.

Thirty-six-year-old Deepali Chavan, who, interestingly, works as a clerk at the very same PMAY office, is struggling to put together Rs 90,000 for booking her home under the scheme. She has been allotted a unit in the Kharadi project.

But staring at the November 23 deadline, she bemoaned, “I was working on a contract basis and lost my job last December. Subsequently, my husband, who worked as an accountant in a private firm, also lost his job. While now I have gained employment again at the same office and will start from next week, we are starved for cash as most of our savings have gone into bridging the interim period on the bench. So garnering the required funds has become difficult. I am trying to take a loan, but the time is just too short.”

For 28-year-old Bharati Admane, another contract clerk of PMC, the timing of the announcement and the one-month window given to make the booking has turned into a challenge. She lost her job with the onset of the outbreak, telling on her savings and now she is unsure she will be able to arrange the amount required in the time given.

“I am trying to withdraw money from my provident fund. But that requires major paper work and the entire process will take 8-10 days. I do not have sufficient money in hand as I could barely save on an income of Rs 11,000 a month. The deadline is just too stiff and I am at a loss how to meet it,” she shared.
Too few takers for PMAY houses in Pune as beneficiaries fight financial distressVishwas More, an auto rickshaw driver from Shivajinagar, managed to land an allotment in the Vadgaon project. But now he is urging the authorities to offer an extension of the timeline for payment to the beneficiaries.

“I have to pay Rs 1.20 lakh. I am struggling to arrange for the amount. I am exploring options of borrowing the money. Auto rickshaws were not plying for so many months, making survival a challenge for us. While we do need the house, arranging the money is such a short time is quite a task. I feel PMC should show some consideration to our situation and extend the payment schedule,” he requested.

The lottery and announcement of beneficiaries coming after months of battling the COVID-19 could not have been more ill-timed for most, who find themselves in financial distress. Further, they are also finding it difficult to access loans under the circumstances.

But PMC officials are unrelenting about the set deadline. The only allowance they’ve offered to make is keep their offices open through Saturday and Sunday. “Those who pay the sum will get the provisional allotment letter. The claims of beneficiaries who do not complete the process will be cancelled. Many citizens on the waiting list have been calling our offices. So if the process is not completed by November 23, those houses will be allotted to the ones waitlisted,” declared Rubal Agarwal, PMC’s additional commissioner.



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