BHADERWAH: With winter just round the corner, the family of Vijay Kumar in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district is eyeing the centrally-sponsored Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme to rebuild their earthquake-damaged mud house.
The house in remote Lamote village under Kursari Panchayat collapsed on August 8 due to the earthquake in Bhaderwah valley, virtually leaving Kumar’s seven-month pregnant wife Nishu Devi (29) and her physically handicapped brother-in-law and sister-in-law under the open sky.
Kumar is working as a driver and mostly stays outside the hometown searching for avenues to earn a living for the family.
“We had applied for the PMAY scheme to build a concrete house two years back. Despite submitting all the required formalities to get financial assistance, our pleas went unanswered till date,” Devi, who is putting up in a damaged portion of the house, told PTI.
Holding the district administration responsible for their plight by not sanctioning a house under PMAY in time, she said they are highly concerned about their safety in view of the approaching winter.
“How am I going to manage the situation with two handicapped members and my first child in the coming months, especially during harsh winter conditions is troubling me a lot. I want to appeal to the government to help me overcome this situation,” she said.
She said all her efforts to provide a pucca roof for the family went in vain as despite knocking all the doors from Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members to political representatives and government officers fell to deaf ears.
“If something untoward happens to any of my family members, the concerned authorities are to be blamed,” Devi said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Bhaderwah Dilmir Chowdhary said against a target of 1,523 beneficiaries spread over 30 panchayats of Bhaderwah block for the financial year 2022-23, as many as 1,118 cases were taken up under the PMAY but 209 among these were found bogus and were subsequently the cases were rejected.
Many beneficiaries also claimed that while they have received the first instalment of the money under PMAY, the second instalment is pending.
Located some 11 km from Bhaderwah town, one has to walk three kilometres uphill to reach Lamote village from the motorable road.
Sushma Devi (43) and her younger brother Naresh Kumar (35), both physically handicapped, had a narrow escape when their house collapsed.
“When the earth started shaking, I was sleeping and suddenly mud from the wall and roof fell on me. I could not run and thought that we would get buried under the debris but Nishu Devi dragged me out of the house. We had a narrow escape as within a few minutes, our house came down crumbling,” Kumar said, expressing hope that the authorities will have some pity on the family and sanction the scheme in their favour.
Devi’s neighbours also vouched for the poor family and questioned the delay in providing financial help under the PMAY scheme to them.
“The family with two handicapped members is living in complete distress. Didi (Nishu), despite being pregnant, is managing the family in trying circumstances. But it is scary to imagine what will happen to them when harsh winter sets in,” Ranu Devi, who resides nearby in the village, said.
Devi maintained that after completing all the required formalities, she handed over the file to the local sarpanch but failed to find her name in the list of beneficiaries.
However, Sarpanch Kursari Panchayat, Sajid Mir said there is no denying that Devi’s family is most deserving in the entire Panchayat but “unfortunately, none of the family members were present in the home during the survey of PMAY scheme.
“This was the main reason for the poor family remaining left out. We have prepared her file again and requested the concerned authorities to treat the case on priority for urgent assistance on humanitarian grounds,” Mir said.
ADC Chowdhary admitted that the family is living in a miserable condition and their case is genuine.
“To rectify the mistake, we are trying to provide financial assistance to the family under PMAY from the savings of the centrally sponsored scheme as some sanctioned houses have been cancelled because the beneficiaries do not fall in the required category of the scheme,” he said.
He said they will also try to find out why the family was left out of the PMAY scheme in the first place.
“The verification of certain cases is on to ensure that only genuine people are benefited by the centrally sponsored scheme,” the official said, admitting that there has been a delay in transferring the money to some of the beneficiaries, including that of Thubba panchayat due to the pending verifications.
However, Chowdhary assured that the pending instalments would be released to the concerned families within a week’s time.