Hyderabad: Tribal organisations are demanding that the government withdraw the “false” case against three persons, including two tribal youths, for exposing substandard construction of houses under state government’s flagship ‘Double Bedroom Housing Scheme’ in Khammam district. On Thursday, representatives of the Telangana Girijana Sangham (TGS) urged the state Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter.
Last week, two tribal youths – Jatoth Rambabu and Boda Naresh – from Harichandrapuram village in Kamepalli mandal of Khammam district filmed and posted a video in a social media group. The clip showed new houses, constructed under the scheme, in their locality. The houses were in a dilapidated condition with uneven flooring and poor quality of slabs. The video was later shared on other platforms by one Madahava Reddy.
In the video, one of them reportedly said: “This is Harichandrapuram. Fifty double bedroom houses were constructed. See the quality of the construction, how poor it is. We can see how they built it without even mixing cement with sand.”
After the video went viral, the district’s Housing Assistant Engineer (AE), Yusuf Ali, filed a complaint with the district police who reportedly booked the three for trespassing and spreading false information on social media.
Responding to the allegations, the tribal youth said that they were daily wage labourers and had shared the videos only with the intent to show the lack of quality of the houses to the officials.
Calling the case a false one, TGS state secretary R. Sree Ram Naik told NewsClick that the youth were among the beneficiaries of the scheme and that it was their right to question the quality of the houses which are constructed with public money. “We have urged the state Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter and direct the authorities to take action against the contractor who was in-charge of the construction, and against officials for threatening the youth with arrest,” said Naik.
Twenty Tribal Families Hold Relay Hunger Strike
For the last four days, twenty tribal families in Erragolla Pahad village in Janagam district are holding protest demonstrations, demanding that the government grant them houses on their respective land.
According to tribal leaders, district police and revenue officials tried to make plantations in the village, which is owned by the tribes, in August. The villages were given to them in between the years 1998 and 2000 by the then government in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh.
“In at least 20 villages, officials have threatened to take away the rightfully-owned lands of poor tribals over the last three months,” said Naik. He said that the Lambadi tribes in Erragolla Pahad have approached the High Court, which subsequently sent notices to the officials asking for an explanation.
“The tribes are holding a relay hunger strike demanding that the government constructs houses as promised under the housing scheme in their plots,” said Naik.
Under the state government’s housing scheme, homeless BPL families were eligible for the scheme and were promised 100% subsidised double-bedroom houses.
Opposition parties in the state have been demanding the Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led state government to release a white paper on the implementation of the housing scheme, which began in 2015. In a recent press conference, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy had alleged that not even five percent of the 2,80,616 sanctioned double-bedroom houses in the state had been constructed and that not even one percent of the houses had been handed over to the beneficiaries.