Sarpanch cons housing scheme beneficiaries

Written by Gopal Kateshiya | Gopal Kateshiya | Nandesari | Updated: Sep 5 2012, 15:50pm hrs
VvRanjan Bharatsinh Parmar, one of the duped beneficiaries, at her present house
The beneficiaries of Sardar Avas Yojna in the villages of Nandesari and nearby Rupapura on the outskirts of Vadodara are in a fix.

On the advice of sarpanch and village talati, 23 of them gave contract to a man from Vadodara to build their houses in May this year but work has not started till date. When three of them demanded their money back, the contractor gave them cheques that allegedly bounced.

These beneficiaries, all women, had received cheques of Rs 21,000 each at a Garib Kalyan Mela held in Vadodara on April 19 this year.

Subsequently, Vanrajsinh, the husband of Geeta Gohil who is the sarpanch of the two villages, allegedly advised them that one Sajid Patel from Vadodara would help them open bank accounts and construct houses for them on contract. Village talati Zakir Hussain Sindhi also seconded.

A few days later, peon of the village panchayat went to their houses, collected the cheques and handed them over to Patel. A week later, Patel and his aide Mitesh Rabari, also a resident of Vadodara, took all the 23 women to Vadodara in a private vehicle and helped them open accounts with a branch of Dena Bank. Once the cheques were cleared, they took the money from the women on the bank premises itself saying they would construct homes for them.

A few weeks later, Patel even delivered consignments of bricks and sand at the sites where houses were to be constructed but the work never started on most of these sites. Beneficiaries also claimed the material was substandard.

Fearing they would lose their money, three of the beneficiaries, Janak Ramsinh Raj, Vidya Mahendra Parmar and Ranjan Bharatsinh Parmar, demanded their money back last month. After much haggling, the contractor gave them cheques of Baroda Central Cooperative Bank on July 30. However, all the three cheques bounced.

Since the beneficiaries are poor and not much educated, we held an informal meeting of panchayat after the Mela and advised them to give contract for their houses, Sindhi said.

Bharatsinh Parmar said, They told me to pull down my one-room house so that they could start work. I demolished a portion and dug foundations. However, they never started work.

On his part, Patel the builder said he had to tend to his ailing brother and hence the delay. He also blamed rains for delay in work.

When contacted, Vadodara taluka development officer (TDO) Dinesh Hadiyel said, A panchayat cannot give contract for construction of houses of Sardar Avas Yojana. However, a beneficiary can sub-contract the work.

The state government gives Rs 45,000 as assistance under the scheme. After the first installment of Rs 21,000, another Rs 9,000 is released after the construction has reached lintel level. The rest is paid after completion of home.