Published On : Sat, Oct 22nd, 2016

Another glaring example of discrimination against Nagpur – no Govt housing schemes even for retired Defense personnel

Govt housing schemes for retired Defense personnel

Nagpur: We all respect our soldiers and our army – no two ways about it. We salute their valour, the hard life they lead and the sacrifices they make for their country.

What is a country ? Not just the land that we live in, but more so the people who inhabit it; so India is many kinds of Indians who live in it. People from different religions- Hindu, Muslim, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Budhists, Parsees…even Hebrew. There is no religion on the earth that is not represented in India. We also have 22 official languages spoken, and 720 dialects! Can one imagine an existence more glorious than this?

You remove all people from a country and what do are you left with? An uninhabited land, a deserted island that will not even deserve a name.

So it is THIS India also that the army protects; for which we are all grateful. Thus it was with mixed feelings that one saw in a local newspaper today an advertisement for a housing project that was meant exclusively for Service personnel. (Retired and serving). Why do they want to keep out civilians? Is it not almost like exclusive housing for people of one religion or one language which practise is now being frowned upon and even held illegal?

I called up the number given in the ad and was shocked by the reply. A gentleman called Major (retired) Chaturvedi spoke with me and this is what he said:

There are n number of housing schemes that each wing of the Army has for its personnel. Specially post retirement.

These are schemes like AFOWO – Armed forces officials Welfare Organization; Army Welfare Housing Organization; LDS i.e. Low Cost housing for Defense and Defense & Services Personnel’s Welfare Housing Socy – this last one is meant for bureaucrats and other Govt. officers too. These schemes make land available at affordable price and also help in construction of houses. A city like Pune is dotted with such housing in almost every area. Like Salunke Vihar – a big gated colony with many apartment buildings in it meant exclusively for retired army/navy/ airforce personnel.

Now get this – though Nagpur has a big presence of the Airforce at an area that is called Vayusena Nagar due to their presence and army cantonments in Kamptee plus offices in Nagpur there isn’t a single Housing project in the city among those mentioned above.

All three wings of the army have just overlooked and bypassed the second capital of Maharashtra and a place that many choose to live post retirement from their ‘welfare housing’ plans!

Why has this happened?

The retired army officer I was speaking to opined frankly that this was another example of discrimination showed to Nagpur/ Vidarbha by the State government.

“They never approve any request of our’s for land in Nagpur for implementation of such schemes. There are more than 2000 serving and retired Army officers in Nagpur but they have no option in places to live in post retirement.”

This rings true – otherwise why would many Army officers who hail from Nagpur or Amraoti , Chandrapur etc. plan to live in Pune or Nasik, i.e. Western Maharashtra, post retirement?

They do so because all the Housing schemes and facilities are based there!

NT learnt that there was an instance many years ago, due to the persistence of the A.V.M stationed in Nagpur some 16 -17 acres was ear marked for retired Air force officers – where others would be accommodated too. But after the offer of the land, there was no further assistance/ co operation forthcoming. All the developments after that would have to be from private funds and through a pvt. builder.

Everyone knows that where it comes to salaries an Army officer hardly compares to what is available in MNCs and private sector. At least that used to be the case till the recent pay commissions. There was not enough strength and they could not muster the moolah needed to utilize this land and the offer was soon withdrawn.

There has been nothing after that.

“To fulfill this lacunae, some of us Army people who had worked together on a project in Nagpur for many years and liked living in Nagpur decided to get together and float a private housing scheme for those interested. It is completely commercial with no help from any quarters so we have to manage our own budget and finances.

We will therefore offer apartments to civilians also definitely after our own requirements are met. It has been done in many instances in other cities and will be implemented in Nagpur also. The proportion of army-civilian apartments is 80:20.”

Major Chaturvedi also clarified that the land chosen was close to the airforce township of Vayusena Nagar so people living there could avail of the Canteen, Mess and other facilities there.

It is for this very reason that some retired army personnel have bought houses in Manav Seva nagar on Seminary hills.

This is another case of discrimination that politicians of Western Maharashtra have to answer for.

When every metro and every major city has planned housing for retired Defense and other Govt. officials why is Nagpur lacking?

—Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)