I worked as Housing Commissioner for U P for more than two years. It was a period of great achievement and it was a period of great achievement and satisfaction too. Many new schemes and projects were initiated or brought to a logical end during this period. The greatest satisfaction and joy was experienced when those who had no hope for shelter could get a dwelling unit in the normal course, without any bribe or push. Even a small unit of house gave the homeless so much joy that quite often tears would roll down their cheeks when the allotment letter was given to them. Many such scenes still appear before my eyes when I think of them. I still keep encountering many such beneficiaries who feel so obliged because of such valid allotments and tell me how they are enjoying their small homes.
On the other hand, there was an equally large number of applicants who did not need a house or plot for their immediate use. Their sole purpose was either speculation or just future apprehension. This was also the group which applied pressures through various sources or even offered bribe openly. While I tried to deal with all such cases on merit, I was not always successful. At times, property had to be allotted to such persons at the cost of more needy applicants. But as an individual, I couldn’t do much as such allotments were not illegal in the strict sense of the term. Certainly, they violated the principle of equity or social justice.
One day, an applicant falling in the above category came to see me in connection with a plot allotment. He appeared to be charming in his manners so I started talking to him at a personal level. During the course of our talk, I discovered that he already had four residential properties in various towns and had applied for the fifth one. Also, either he had no family or had separated from his family. In a way, he was a loner. Still, I thought of considering his case on merit. In the same connection I also asked for his address and where he actually lived. At this, he was a little perplexed and could not respond immediately. Perhaps he was apprehending some enquiry by the housing board. So he frankly said that though he had given an address on the application form, the fact was that he had no home. Therefore, if any enquiry were to be conducted, in all probability he would not be available on the given address. A majority of such applicants, who were either rich or occupied an influential position with a dwelling unit of their own, did not necessarily use the houses allotted to them. They were also confused about the place of their settlement. Moreover, matters like in whose name the property should stand, mode of payment, time of possession, etc., also added to their confusion. It was also very difficult to convince them that they didn’t need the property. While his ambiguity about sharing his home address was a sufficient reason to reject his application, it was amusing to see a person with many houses and no home.