VACB spots large-scale irregularities in tribal housing sector
- The government had spent ₹500 crore over past five years for special packages
- Of the 3,921 houses for which funds were allotted construction of only 793 houses were completed
- Attappady has 36,000 tribal people living in 193 settlements
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) spotted large-scale irregularities in multi-crore tribal housing packages implemented in last ten years. A benefit-tracking audit conducted by VACB found that irregularities were rampant in the implementation of housing packages for tribals of Attappady.
The audit revealed that ten years ago the government had allotted funds for 3,921 houses for the tribals in Attappady, but the construction of only 793 houses was completed. The money allocated as part of the project was swindled by an unholy nexus of officials of Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP), a section of tribal promoters under SC/ST Department and local contractors, the audit report said.
The audit was ordered by the then VACB Chief Jacob Thomas to arrest the increasing rate of malnutrition and infant mortality rate in Attappady even after allotting so much money for improving their living conditions.
Attappady has 193 settlements with 36, 000 people and government had sanctioned funds for ensuring better housing for them under various welfare schemes. The government had taken huge loans from financial institutions like HUDCO to secure funds for such schemes.
"It is horrifying that of the 3,921 houses allotted 3,128 are still remaining incomplete. The middlemen and contractors have created documents claiming that the funds were directly transferred to beneficiaries. It will be difficult to act against such persons, VACB Circle Inspector V Krishnankutty said.
The state government had allotted ₹2 lakh to ₹3.5 lakh for each house. The audit also found that poor quality material was used for the construction and building pattern was selected without considering the climate of Attappady.
The government had pumped over ₹500 crore for various special packages, including poverty reduction and tackling malnutrition, over past five years. But none of them yielded desired results owing to mismanagement and corruption.