Irregularities have been reported in 5,000 houses in a district with 10,000 houses constructed under PM Awas Yojana. This amounts to Rs. 100 crores per year. Extrapolated to all other districts and for the past four years, the scam could be worth at least 10,000 crores, alleges the petitioner Cong MP Vishnu Prasad.
Yet another scam in the Centre’s scheme for the poor in Tamil Nadu. Arani Lok Lok Sabha member and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) working president M K Vishnu Prasad has petitioned the Tamil Nadu Lok Ayukta with supporting documents alleging over 10,000 crore irregularities in Prime Minister Awas Yojana (PMAY) seeking probe.
A week ago, TN government claimed on its own admission that there was a 110 crore scam in the PM Kisan scheme. Even before the din and demand for a CBI probe by opposition parties die down, this massive scam has rocked the state.
PMAY is intended to provide shelter to house-less poor in a phased manner. Under the scheme, beneficiaries are given up to Rs 2.40 lakhs to construct a house which is shared by Centre and the state government in the ratio of 60:40 respectively. In addition to that, the beneficiary is entitled to wages under the MGNREGA for building the house which comes out to Rs 20,610. In addition , he will be given Rs 12,000 to construct toilets. This is PM Modi’s one of the dream projects like PM Kisan, Swaach Bharat. Prime Minister Modi said in Bhopal on 12th that 18 lakh houses were built under the PMAY across Bharat during the Pandemic.
Congress MP Vishnu Prasad told Organiser Weekly that he had filed a case against the project director of Tiruvannamalai district in the LokAyukta and have received an intimation that probe would begin soon. He said “I had submitted a memorandum to the District Collector alleging large-scale irregularities under the PMAY and several crores were siphoned off by dubious means. Without verifying the data, district administration told me that all beneficiaries were chosen and allotted houses based on the socio-economic caste census data. I requested them to check the records thoroughly. There were several hundred cases where the money meant for actual and deserving beneficiaries was being diverted to those similar names wantonly to favour them. This is a daylight robbery”.
To cite a few examples. In Ozhappakkam, Kosappattu village, instead of V Amsa, wife of Veliappan, the house was allotted to one A Amsa wife Arul, a name sake. Original beneficiary V Amsa has sent a letter seeking a house to live in June this year. Name sake Amsa claimed in a letter produced by authorities says she has been living in the house allotted to her. Similarly in Chitragavoor- Pudur village in Thellar block, house was given to Malliga Subramanian instead of Malliga Subbarayan. In Vandavasi block, Kilnarma panchayat, K Govindan and T Ranganayaki were the beneficiaries as per the date but no houses were built and we could not find any such persons there. In Kayalkottai Panchayat in Jawadhu Hills, beneficiary is Settai Rajan but it was allotted to Settai Govindan. There are about 350 such mis-match cases in Jawadhu Hills block. All are illiterate Tribals. In Mudur village there is no one by name Vasantha ( TN2100645)2019-20. Krishnamurthy Subrmaniyam (TN 2145348) 2019-20, Mrs Kanniyammal Elumalai (TN 2101551) 2019-20 and Babu Moorthy (TN 2121731) 019-20 are the PMAY beneficiaries. During our investigation they said they are not aware of any such allotment. But they were built for someone else. There were several hundred cases where the money meant for actual beneficiaries was being diverted to those with similar names.
Vishnu Prasad’s complaint letter to TN LokAyukta
Vishnu Prasad said he had provided details of at least 68 such instances in several panchayats in the Jawadhu Hills. “since the names do need not match in the bank account and there is no requirement of geo-tagging, anyone can take a photo standing in front of a house and upload it as proof. This technique is being used widely and in one union in Jawadhu Hills, there are a lot of such mismatches in around 800 houses”. He said in February after smelling irregularities in the scheme, he sought details from the government which was denied. I sourced them from the Union Ministry and other sources. I have brought it to the attention of the Prime Minister, concerned Ministry, Tamil Nadu Governor, Chief Minister and others. There was no action and I thought lockdown could be the reason for that.. Finally , I approached the LokAyukta with a petition with supporting documents to prove the irregularities that had happened.
He said the list of beneficiaries were prepared by officials for the period 2016 to 2020 as there are no elected body representatives. When we made a field verification startling things come to light. Even if you assume 10 houses per panchayat, irregularities were 50 percent. I have a list of over 700 houses meant for STs which were allotted to someone. In one Panchayat no houses were built but they made claims of 4 houses having been constructed. I have left with no option except to approach the judiciary ie. Lok Ayukta. In a district out of 10,000 houses, there were irregularities in 5,000 houses. 5,000 houses per year, it is worth 100 crores. During the past four years, special officers who are looking after local bodies without elected members, there could be a possibility of irregularities worth at least 10,000 crores. I squarely blame the TN Local administration Minister for this massive scam”. Vishnu Prasad wants action to be taken against the officials and people involved in the scam. He said they should be sent to jail after confiscating their properties. He said the Central government had allotted Rs 32 crore for this project but only 14 crores were spent towards construction of houses. The remaining 18 Crores were defrayed for car rental, diesel, petrol and expenses for contractual labourers”. He said “under the MGNREGA scheme, officials made a job card for 100 persons of their choice in each village. They are getting Rs.25,000 per annum without doing any job. It works out roughly Rs 140-150 crores . The central government wants to help the poor and brings out a lot of welfare schemes. But the corrupt officials and politicians work in tandem to ensure that the benefits do not reach the intended beneficiaries” .
List of fake beneficiaries unearthed during investigation
Tiruvannamalai District Collector K S Kandasamy said nine panchayat secretaries/clerks have been suspended in this connection. He said the total allotment of houses under the PMAY was 33,000 units and wrongful beneficiaries have come up only in a few cases. He said a total 20,000 houses were completed under the scheme in the last three years. Vishnu Prasad said taking action against clerks and leaving higher officials will not be sufficient. Official sources “ denied all allegations saying as and when complaints are received actions were taken to set right the defects pointed out. regarding Jawadhu Hills Panchayat union in the year 2017-18 739 houses were allotted and constructions were on. Till May 2019 during the field verification , it was found 363 beneficiaries were not included. In the district, during 2016-17 to 2019-20 23,106 houses were allotted and 16,583 were built and handed over to the beneficiaries. Work is ongoing in the remaining 6,483 houses. 7 Panchayat secretaries in Jawadhu Hill Panchayat Union have been placed under suspension while disciplinary action has been initiated against one block development officer, two assistant engineers, two supervisors, 3 deputy BDOs and 1 assistant.
With regard to the house allotted to A Amsa instead of Amsa V, action is being taken against concerned officials. In another complaint pertaining to houses were not allotted to K Govindan and T Ranganayaki in Vandavasi block, Kilnarma panchayat, It was allotted to their sons. Regarding Malliga Subrayan was given a house complaint, enquiry is being done. All charges levelled by the Aarni MP were the complaints in which district administration has already taken action and nothing new”.
DMK president M K Stalin and AMMK general secretary T T V Dhinakaran have urged both Central and state governments to initiate action on the alleged irregularities in the implementation of PMAY. In a series of tweets, he said that a proper probe should be carried out against those who had acted without being conscientious in a scheme meant for the welfare of the poor.
Recently senior citizens M Solaimuthu (80) and Panchavarnam (74) of Seera Natham village in Perambalur district had applied for PMAY for the construction of a house in FY 2017-18. When they met the officials for due instalments, they were shocked to learn that it was already disbursed for Rs.52,714 ( dated April 21, 2018 and June 1,2018) They shared this to their grandson P Ulganathan , an Engineer by profession. He felt something fishy and presented a petition with the District Collector seeking his intervention. Even after submitting over 40 petitions nothing had happened. He got the reply for his query under RTI, which said S Selvan, real estate agent had obtained loans and the money was credited into the account of his wife Malathi Selvam.
The opposition parties are expected to raise these issues during the State Assembly session. In the next year’s assembly election, scams in PMAY, PM Kisan, Swaach Bharat will be the main poll plank of opposition parties.