“Lack of transparency” in housing to homeless scheme: PDP

J&K administration should come “clean” on who the homeless were: Omar Abdullah

SRINAGAR — There is “lack of transparency” in the housing to homeless scheme in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP said on Thursday, a day after the administration termed as “factually incorrect” Mehbooba Mufti’s allegation that there are attempts to settle outsiders to change the Union Territory’s demography.

On Wednesday, PDP chief Mehbooba had told a press conference: “The LG made an announcement about giving land to 1.99 lakh landless people in J-K. Doubts and concerns have come to the fore as to who these landless people in Jammu and Kashmir are.” She had claimed that “according to the figures of the central government placed before Parliament, there are only 19,000 homeless families in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Mehbooba also accused the administration of importing slums and poverty into the Union Territory under the pretext of providing housing to homeless people. She had called it an attempt to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hours after her press conference, the Lieutenant Governor (LG)-led administration responded saying, her statement that the “government is allotting land to two lakh odd persons is factually incorrect”.

A spokesperson of the administration had said that the “statements made by her are without having any understanding of the PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana) scheme and revenue laws of J&K which permit allotment of land to landless, for housing purposes”.

“So, neither any change in the law has been made, nor any outsider is being allotted land,” he had said.

On the J&K administration’s response, the PDP on Thursday said there is a “lingering lack of transparency in the process”. The main question of a “sharp jump in numbers of homeless people from 1,947 in 2021 to nearly two lakh households remains unaddressed”, the party said in a statement.

The PMAY has been in operation for decades in J-K under different titles and a procedure has been in place which always was monitored by the Government of India itself from the identification level to the execution level, the PDP said.

It said, the assistance would be given generally to the poorest landholders and in case of people without land, there was a process in place to allot them land out of community lands such as Kahcharai, State land and Khalisa.

The PDP said the claim that “two lakh identified households still remain homeless raises doubts about the sharp increase”. “Either the exercise is flawed or the intentions are suspect,” the party added.

National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah while talking to reporters in Budgam asked the administration to come “clean” on who the homeless were and how they were being categorised.

“Are you categorising those as homeless as well who came here just a week ago, and will now claim land here. Or have you kept a cut-off date for it? I think those people who came to Kashmir after 2019 should in no way be included in this,” the National Conference (NC) vice president said.

“If you want to adjust those who are homeless or those who do not have land, then you should adjust those who have been living here before 2019, because you (the government) have tried to settle many people here after 2019,” Abdullah said.

The Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday said the Jammu and Kashmir administration has started providing 150 square yard plots to landless families for the construction of their houses under the PMAY.

“The rural development department has identified 1.83 lakh families who do not have their own houses. We are working on it. It is a step that will not only provide a house to them but transform their lives,” he had said, claiming that plots to 2,711 landless families across the union territory have already been allotted. — (PTI)