Lucknow: The 'Samajwadi' housing scheme unveiled amid much fanfare for the poor in Uttar Pradesh presents a paradox - the homeless have to dole out a whopping monthly instalment Rs 34,000 to ensure a roof over the head.
The scheme, launched on May 2 by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at a function whose venue was a 5-star hotel, here drew flak from Opposition parties which dubbed it as "mockery" of poor by the state government.
Under the scheme, UP Housing and Development Board (UPHDB) will construct 7,756 flats with values ranging from Rs 12.25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.
As the announcement promising the poor a flat of their own got embroiled in a political controversy and seemed to become counter productive, the state government swung into a damage control mode.
"We will revise the monthly instalments by extending the repayment tenure from existing three years. We will give a proposal to the Board on May 12 to extend the repayment tenure to 8 to 10 years."
"Under this, the maximum quarterly instalment will range between Rs 10,000 and Rs 13,000," Secretary Uttar Pradesh Housing and Development Board, RP Singh, told a news agency.
Referring to the originally planned three-year repayment schedule, he said no interest was being charged and that was the reason behind the high instalment.
"Maximum allottees opt for finance from banks, which offer a repayment tenure of 20 to 25 years," Singh said.
Blaming the SP government for the goof-up, BJP leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak said, "The scheme amounts to making mockery of not only the poor but 'samajwad' (socialism) also."
"The scheme was launched in 5-star hotel by the CM but officers have not done any homework regarding it. How can a person in EWS category afford to pay Rs 34,000 as instalment?" he wondered.
Congress too attacked the SP government for launching such a "ridiculous" scheme for the poor.
"It's ridiculous. How can a poor pay such a hefty amount? The government should provide subsidy if it really wants to benefit the poor or it should reduce instalment amount by cutting down interest rates," Congress MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.