Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, over 1,000 affordable homes in Rajkot have remained unsold as the Rajkot Municipal Corporation has received fewer applications than the units available for the first time in nearly eight years. The flats went unsold even after extending the deadline of submitting applications thrice.
The maximum buyers were for 2BHK flats for the Economically Weaker Section-II (EWS-II) category, followed by 1BHK flats for Economically Weaker Section-I category (EWS-I) and 3BHK flats for the middle-income group (MIG) category. Civic officers blame the impact of the Covid-19 crisis for people's financial crisis and say no new scheme would be launched until the inventory is sold, The Indian Express reported.
In April 2021, the RMC invited applications for 1,648 dwelling units (DUs) EWS-I category, 1,676 DUs of EWS-II category and 847 DUs of MIG category. During the second wave of Covid-19 from mid-March to early June, the deadline to submit applications was extended till May, then June, and for the third time till July 23.
Till the last date, the RMC sold 2,928 and 1,044 applications for EWS-I and MIG flats, respectively, but received only 1,349 and 124 forms for 1,648 and 847 for the two respective categories. Also, the 1,022 DU's has no takers, among which 299 are EWS-I flats and 723 MIG flats. All the EWS schemes fall under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
EWS-II Category Gets Good Response
The only category where the response has been good is the EWS-II category. In this category, according to the RMC officials, it has received 3,328 applications for 1,617 flats having two-bedroom-hall-kitchen (2BHK) each and costing Rs 5.5 lakh each to beneficiaries.
In 2015-16 and 2019-20, the department had conducted draws of lots for allotting homes. Civic officers say it will be conducted to decide beneficiaries of EWS-II homes in the latest round, besides allotting houses for eligible applicants for EWS-I and MIG homes.
1,248 EWS-I flats are being constructed in Punitpark on the 150-feet ring road, 400 near Speedwell Party Plot near Nana Mava, 432 EWS-II flats in Punitpark, 432 apartments opposite Selenium Heights on Mavdi-Pal Road and 620 near crematorium on Mavdi-Kankot Road. However, the MIG flats are being constructed on all posh areas of Rajkot-Kalavad Road, near Sheetal Park on the 150-feet ring road, and near Selenium Heights.
The RMC launched the MIG scheme with 1,268 flats last year and invited applications for the first time in February last year. But only 834 applications were received, of which only 230 were valid, and eligible beneficiaries were allotted flats in August 2020.
After furnishing the required documents, 210 more of the 834 applicants were allotted flats in January 2021. However, around 30 of the 440 beneficiaries surrendered their flats either because of financial constraints or because they landed a flat in another government scheme, officials say. That led to 847 flats being unsold.
"Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on people's finances and sentiment in the property market in general. It wasn't easy for people to get documents in time as government officials were busy in controlling the pandemic. Banks are also hesitant to extend loans due to delays in disbursement of government subsidies," Alpana Mitra, RMC's city engineer for housing projects, told The Indian Express.
The officer added that around 18,000 affordable homes were handed to beneficiaries over the last eight years.
"The government used to give us annual targets for constructing houses. The RMC target was 6,000 DUs last year, but due to Covid, no target has been given. We will not launch any new scheme till all the DUs of previous year's schemes are sold," said Mitra.