Exactly four years ago — in September 2009 — floods in parts of 14 north Karnataka districts left 1.64 lakh people homeless. After much delay, the State government, with assistance from donors in several instances, constructed 51,030 houses under the Aasare scheme, but as many as 19,038 (37 per cent) of them remain unoccupied to this day.
There are complaints galore on the quality of construction, lack of basic amenities and distance of the new Aasare colonies from the native villages. Constructed houses have not been officially handed over in many cases. There were allegations that the survey conducted to assess the damage to houses and crop losses was itself faulty in several villages. Following the floods,... a total of 140 villages were identified to be shifted fully and 148 to be partially shifted in Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bellary, Bidar, Bijapur, Davangere, Dharwad, Gadag, Gulbarga, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur, Uttara Kannada and Yadgir districts.
Houses were built on 300 sq ft at an average cost of Rs. 1.4 lakh each. A sum of Rs. 133.29 crore was spent only on construction of houses. The government released Rs. 1,874 crore for flood relief works. The Centre provided Rs. 947 crore towards compensation. A total of 20,918 houses were built with the support of donors, public and private firms.
Officials in the Revenue Department admit that the government did not meet the target in construction either: while 56,511 houses were to be built, they succeeded in building only 51,030. The government is yet to hand over 3,926 houses to flood victims.
Officials argue that flood-affected families have “declined” to shift to new houses as they are not familiar with the new rehabilitation areas. Despite the threat of floods every year, village residents continue to live in their villages citing lack of amenities in the rehabilitated areas, they contend.
In a series, The Hindu visits some of the Aasare colonies to assess the quality of rehabilitation work and to lend an ear to the woes of the people.