UP govt’s housing scheme oddity: Free flats for higher income while poor to pay

It seems that the various housing schemes planned by the Uttar Pradesh government has created a situation where people with relatively higher income might get free flats while those who come under the economically weaker sections (EWS) will have to pay.

The UP Housing and Development Board scheme, Awadh Vihar Yojna, to be launched on January 26 will provide 750 flats, each costing Rs 4.85 lakh and with a build-up area of 33.69 sqm. Housing Commissioner R P Singh had said people with annual income up to Rs 60,000 can apply for these flats.

However, the government has already promised free houses under the Asra scheme for houseless urban poor for those whose annual income does not exceed Rs 72,000. Nevertheless, the free houses will be smaller with a build-up area of 25 sqm.

Asked about the anomaly, Singh said he will recheck the proposed rates and income limit of the EWS category in the board's scheme. He said the UPHDB scheme would be successful as "it provides more area and better service for EWS flats compared to the other scheme".

The state government had launched Aasra scheme after closing the Kanshiram Shahri Garib Awas Yojna that was run by the previous Mayawati government. In the first two phases, BSP government had alloted 1.3 lakh houses. Nearly 24,000 houses under the third phase are under construction.

Apparently, the anomaly in the scheme arose after the government gave a three-fold rise in the income criteria for urban poor. The annual income limit for flats under the scheme run by the BSP government was Rs 24,500. But Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav rejected the poverty line and fixed it at Rs 72,000.

In the first phase of the scheme, the aim is to build 4,000 houses and the government has earmarked Rs 100 crore in the budget. The Cabinet had approved the scheme on January 5 and the District Urban Development Agencies (DUDA) have been directed to start selection of beneficiaries.

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