Bindu stands outside her ramshackle shed she calls home at the West Hill beach locality, a coastal neighbourhood once notoriously called ‘Bangladesh colony’, on Monday.
She is supposed to be one of the beneficiaries of the government’s Shanthi Nagar Model Village project, a multi-crore housing welfare scheme for 340 families in the locality.
But reality for her is a few sheets of tarpaulin that make the walls of her ‘home’, cardboard boxes to keep her utensils, bare earth for floor, and clotheslines criss-crossing the interior of the shed.UDF project
The model village project was envisaged by the UDF government to provide homes and basic amenities to the colony.
Its nodal agency, the Kerala State Housing Board, in its website, describes the project as a welfare measure to “tackle the backwardness of the locality by providing homes with basic amenities”.
It says the coastal neighbourhood has been chosen to implement the scheme, as it has been “sidelined in development for many years and residents were kept away from mainstream society due to various reasons. The youngsters of the colony are being widely used by anti-social elements and drug mafia”.First phase completed
In May 2013, the project completed its first phase. In a gala function, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, while handing over the keys of 218 houses to a select list of beneficiaries, assured the rest of them like Bindu that the second phase of the project will be completed in time.
But this has not been so. Till date, work has not started on the second phase, which consists of the construction of 115 houses and repairing 25. The months of waiting for the second phase to start has been bitter, even to the extent of dividing the locality between the haves and have-nots.
“People like me who have title deeds were not given houses in the first phase. Instead, complete strangers and those who had sold and gone from here were given houses under the project. We live in these temporary sheds, waiting for our homes to materialise,” Thahira Mohammed Iqbal, a resident, says.
Sumitha, a young mother of five, says she does not know how the family will survive the monsoon this year.
But neither the KSHB nor the district administration is willing to take responsibility for the delay. Instead, they indulge in a blame game. The KSHB says the delay is due to lack of funds.
Construction of the 115 houses will cost Rs.14 crore. A primary health care centre, approach roads, community hall, and other amenities will cost another Rs.14 crore. “The district administration has not transferred any funds to us for the second phase,” a senior KSHB official says.Blame game
However, District Collector C.A. Latha denies any role in the project and lobs the ball back into the KSHB’s court.
“It is the KSHB which is the nodal agency for the project. The Board is even responsible for making the list of beneficiaries,” she says. Ms. Latha adds that her office has already sent a request to the government for funds for the second phase.
But KSHB officials say even the first phase is not fully complete. Work on three houses from the first phase is yet to finish.
“Officers who come here say the second phase will begin this month, the next, etc… meanwhile we live in these shanties without electricity and water,” Ms. Iqbal says.