It has been around one week since the Hyderabad floods washed away all that Chunnai Bai had in her home, forcing her to take to the streets. Knowing that she is one of the beneficiaries of the Dr Ambedkar Nagar project, the police asked her to move to the parking lot of one of the completed apartments, where houses are due for allotment. Holding torn papers smudged with blotted ink, she stands at a corner, a little away from a group of men who are in a heated discussion about the allotment of the flats.
Chunnai Bai standing with her torn papers
âAll my documents were washed away in the rains,â the elderly woman, who doesnât recollect her age, said. Even as she stands with hopeful eyes, seeking an assurance from all those passing by, she enquires whether she would face any difficulty in getting the house, which is rightfully hers. This, because she no longer has any of her documents. Her son, who is down with fever, lay covered under a blanket in one of the blockâs parking lots. She hopes she will be handed over the keys to a flat soon.
Chunnai Bai sitting beside her son who is down with fever
The dignity housing scheme
A day after 1,152 double bedroom houses were inaugurated by Telangana Home Minister Mohd Mahmood Ali and Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD) Minister KT Rama Rao, TNM visited Jiyaguda to take a look at the situation on the ground and to interact with beneficiaries.
Double bedroom housing for the poor was an election promise of the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao government. According to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), the 1,152 double bedroom houses inaugurated on Monday as part of the dignity housing project were constructed at a cost of Rs 95.58 crore. Of the total houses inaugurated, 840 are in Jiyaguda. 192 in Ghode-ki-Khabar and 120 in Kattela mandi. Authorities have promised to provide all facilities like those provided in gated communities.
The entrance to the colony
Around three-and-a-half years ago, 570 families staying in MCH colony in Jiyaguda were promised 2 BHK houses in return for the land on which their homes stood. Speaking to a regional channel at the time, officials had declared that the project would be completed in 12 months.
The houses that the locals were residing in back then were on the verge of collapse and in a dilapidated condition owing to lack of maintenance. The residents had demanded that the project be completed within a stipulated time as they would be staying in rented houses while work was underway.
Now, a massive project consisting of 840 double bedroom houses stands completed in Jiyaguda, the same area where 570 families were promised houses. The beautifully painted five-storey buildings, lined one beside the other, makes for a great view. Fifty-six spaces for commercial establishments have been provided.
Each block has a lift for the convenience of the residents. With ample parking space, a dawakhana (medical clinic) and shops present inside the premises of the township, the entire project looks impressive.
The lift at one of the blocks
The dawakhana at the housing project
The houses have been provided basic amenities like drinking water, electricity, bathroom fittings etc. The main door of the house enters into the hall which then leads to the two rooms. One bathroom is attached to one of the rooms and the other is a common bathroom. The house also has a kitchen and a balcony.
The entrance to the newly-inaugurated 2BHK house
57-year-old Azeemuddin has been working as a security guard ever since the project began three-and-a-half years ago. Enthusiastically, he shows us around and explains how the journey has been in the last few years. Pointing to the perimeter of the colony he explained, âThe entire area was covered with tin sheets. No one was allowed to enter into the construction premises. Despite the strict rules, when no one is watching, people would try to dent the tin sheet to enter to get a glimpse of the construction.â
In between all the explanations, there is an awkward silence. âWish I could also get a house to call my own,â he softly said. Azeemuddin presently resides in Puranapul and he has been staying in a rented house all his life.
Inaugurated but not alloted
Though the houses were inaugurated amid fanfare and celebration on Tuesday, the residents are waiting with bated breath to know which flat would be allotted to them. 35-year-old Rakesh Choundiye drives an auto for a living. For the last one week, he hasnât gone to work. Every morning, he and several others come over to the colony and wait, hoping that the allotment takes place.
âFor the last three-and-a-half years, we have been staying at a rented 2BHK nearby. We have 11 members staying in the house. We pay Rs 9,000 per month in rent. We are hoping that they allot us the houses before the end of this month, so that we can move in immediately and avoid paying rent for another month,â said Rakesh.
Rakesh is just one among dozens of others who have gathered at the flat early on Tuesday morning. They are now hoping that they get a flat that is located at the same place that their old house stood, but there is no guarantee about the same.
A large number of beneficiaries gathered together early Tuesday morning
Shanthamma was sitting under the shade of a tree at the entrance of the colony. She is aware that the allotment isnât today, but since her son couldnât afford to take a day off from selling vegetables, she decided to come over and wait â just in case officials change their mind and decided to allot the flats on Tuesday. âThroughout the construction of the project, we would come here once in every three days to see how much of the project was completed. We have been eagerly waiting for the project to get completed,â said Shanthamma.
Brokers and middlemen
Maheshwari and Elisha are among several others who are walking around the premises, staring at the completed houses. They are from the neighbouring locality. They are hoping that they would be allotted a house as they had applied online and handed over a âsettlementâ fee to increase their chances. They are eyeing the 270 homes that would be remaining after the original residents are all allotted their homes.
On further questioning, Maheshwari revealed, âMany of us have paid around Rs 20,000 to a TRS Mahila Mandal leader who had promised that she would pull strings to ensure that we would be allotted homes. In case we donât, I will pull her up and bring out the truth in front of the media.â
According to locals, there are several middlemen and brokers who have collected money promising them that they would ensure they will be allotted a house in the township.
Government promises fair allotment
However, minister KTR has urged people not to believe in middlemen. He assured them of a fair and just method of allotment. According to the GHMC, about 1 lakh 2BHKs are being built in the city, and they will be distributed in a phased manner to the poor who are eligible.
Speaking at the inauguration on Monday, KTR said, âThe beneficiaries should form a society to maintain the 2BHK dignity colonies. Lift maintenance, cleanliness of the colony etc should be taken care of, with income generated from the 56 shops provided in the colony. Though the government is spending Rs 9 lakh on each unit, the market value of each of the houses is around Rs 40 lakhs."
"The Basthi Dhawakana would provide free medical aid. Facilities like a library and an Anganwadi centre will also be provided. With an outlay of Rs 18,000 crore, a total of 2.5 lakh 2BHKs are being built. Its market value is estimated around Rs 70,000 crore. This is proof of the governmentâs commitment to peopleâs welfare,â he added.
Despite promises of fairness, people like Chunnai Bai wait for their chance. With ruined documents in hand and her sick son by her side, she can only focus on the new home to ease her anxieties. "We were promised a house and we are just hoping it is allotted to us as soon as possible."