Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will gift 2BHK flats to 13,000 media persons, in a startling example of state endowment. The CM’s largesse, which will cost Rs 100 crore to the state exchequer, is apparently to acknowledge the pivotal role played by journalists in the struggle for a separate state. In a contrast to the state’s 2BHK scheme for the poor, in which the beneficiary has to pay a marginal amount, the journalists will get these flats completely free, sources in the Telangana government said.
When the state’s budget for the financial year 2016-17 was presented in the Assembly on 14 March, Rs 100 crore was earmarked for this scheme. Finance Minister Etela Rajender said that initially two major gated communities will be developed for media persons in Hyderabad and Warangal and later the eight district headquarters will be considered for the purpose.
Rajender made a total allocation of around Rs 2,650 crore for housing for the weaker sections. The Telangana government has done away with the practice of building single room houses for the poor. Now, they will be provided with 2BHKs.
Although no specifications have been mentioned by the state, sources told this newspaper that each apartment will have a built-up area of 1,500 sq ft and the gated communities will be provided with all amenities like shopping complexes, schools, health care units and club houses. Each unit is expected to cost Rs 20 lakh.
There was a practice of allotting houses to journalists since the 1960s in undivided Andhra Pradesh. In Hyderabad, journalists have been allotted house sites of 300 to 500 sq yards in three phases until now by different cooperative housing societies. Sometimes, the allotments ran into legal hassles, such as in the case of 60 acres of land granted by former Chief Minister of AP, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
Currently, 2,500 media persons are waiting for redress from the court.
KCR’s announcement came under increasing pressure from media persons, which included desk journalists, video editors and camera persons. But the CM did not accede to their demand for allotting house sites. He, however, waived off the margin money to be paid for the proposed apartments in highrises.
Telangana government adviser, K.V. Ramanachary, who is a coordinator in the 2BHK project for the media, justified the endowment. “The CM has taken the decision to provide housing to all senior journalists and media persons with a minimum standing of around 10 years, so that they can settle down in their lives,” he told this newspaper.
Telangana Press Academy chairman Allam Narayana expressed his happiness over the decision.
“This will go a long in solving the economic problems of media persons in the state. It is good that the CM has decided not to collect any fee or margin money from them as most of them are poorly paid and cannot afford costly houses,” said Narayana.
However, officials fear that other professionals like lawyers may demand free houses, citing their contribution in the Telangana movement. “Of course, we can accommodate such demands,” said Home Minister Naini Narsimha Reddy.