NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said the Delhi government should hand over the unallotted 35,000 houses built under the Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojan in 2007-10 to the Centre, and expressed concern over their dilapidated condition. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, he noted that these houses should be made available to the central government for a new scheme – Affordable Rental Housing Complexes.
The Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana (RRAY) is a centrally-sponsored scheme, implemented between 2007 and 2010, by the then Delhi government as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Rehabilitation Mission.
Replying during the Question Hour in the Upper House, the minister said most of the flats are lying vacant and also a building block with 32 houses meant for economically weaker sections had collapsed on February 11.
Asked about the reasons for the building collapse, the Delhi government had in writing stated that there was large-scale theft and pilferage, including of steel, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, this was a case of theft by miscreants which resulted in the damage of the structure of those flats, he said.
The Delhi government had also informed that a third party quality audit was undertaken during the construction, he said.
Puri said the Centre, however, has requested the city government to hand over the remaining unallocated 35,000 houses for the new central scheme.
“Even now, for the remaining 35,000 (flats), we have repeatedly written to them to say — please make them available for affordable housing rental complexes so that we can provide temporary abodes (to the needy),” he said.
“Why should any space constructed as long ago in 2007 remain unallotted till 2022? Any building, even if constructed to the highest quality and if it is allowed to remain vacant, you will have pilferage of fittings. This is a standard practice,” he said.
Responding to a query on any thieves arrested so far, the Union minister said it is primarily the responsibility of the city government.
“We would be happy to rehabilitate any of the central schemes.
“Theft is a criminal act. That is something which the authority concerned has to assume responsibility. As far as we are concerned, we are willing to help,” he added.
To a suggestion by a BJP leader to initiate a probe into the matter as the Delhi government has misguided and given incorrect information that the theft happened during the pandemic whereas the flats were constructed way back in 2007-10, Puri said, “I may actually endorse that view.”
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