Budget meant for poor housing programme likely to freeze in nine districts of Bagmati ProvinceThe provincial government had launched the housing programme in all 10 districts except three districts of Kathmandu Valley this fiscal year.
The government’s plan to build around 2,000 houses for the poor and the marginalised communities in Bagmati Province could not be completed this year.
The Bagmati Province government had allocated Rs 430 million in the running fiscal year 2019/20 to construct a total of 2,096 houses in 10 districts under the People’s Housing Programme. With just three weeks remaining for this fiscal year to end, the project is nowhere near completion.
Out of t 10 project districts, Sindhuli is the only district where the project was executed, that too after several delays.
The funds allocated under the programme in nine districts remain unspent and are expected to freeze.
Rajesh Kumar Paudel, chief at the Urban Development and Building Construction Division Office in Hetauda, said construction of 50 houses in Sindhuli was currently in progress while nine other districts had not even prepared the list of beneficiaries yet.
Officials say the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown affected the project’s execution.
“We were authorised to implement the programme only in February. We hadn’t even selected beneficiaries when the lockdown was enforced,” said Sanjaya Pandey, the acting chief at the Makwanpur branch of the division office.
The federal government had announced the People’s Housing Programme in 2013 vowing to build houses for the impoverished families of Dalit, marginalised and endangered families in the country. The programme was handed over to the provincial government in the fiscal year of 2018/19.
The Bagmati government had announced to give continuity to the programme in 10 of 13 districts in the province this fiscal year. Under the programme, the provincial executive had allocated Rs 150 million to Makwanpur, Rs 130 million to Chitwan, Rs 30 million to Dhading, Rs 15 million to Ramechhap, Rs 15 million to Sindhuli, Rs 10 million to Sindhupalchok, Rs 10 million to Dolakha, Rs 10 million to Kavre, Rs 10 million to Nuwakot and Rs 10 million to Rasuwa.
The programme was targeted to the families of Chepang, Bankariya, Gandharba, Majhi and Dalit, among other impoverished minority communities.
According to the division office, the programme was in the implementation phase after preparing working guidelines.
“The work has been halted due to the lockdown. The budget under the People’s Housing Programme will be frozen this year, except in Sindhuli,” said an engineer at the division office.
The People’s Housing Programme has been implemented in Makwanpur district for the past 10 years. As many as 700 houses have been constructed in the district so far.
Pandey said the government provides Rs 332,500 to each beneficiary in three instalments.
Owing to the lackadaisical work plan and the Covid-19 lockdown, the project beneficiaries won’t be moving to new homes this year.
“I was hoping to be selected for the programme this year. But nobody has come to the village as of today to help me build a house,” Ram Kumar Chepang, a local of Raksirang Rural Municipality in Makwanpur, told the Post.