Will the State Government bail out the Kerala State Housing Board? With an acute liquidity crunch and unsettled liabilities, the board has its back to the wall and is “struggling for existence,” say its unions, which have been sending repeated appeals to the State government to save the organisation. At the centre of the crisis is a shortage of working capital to launch new projects and the money it owes to the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO). With elections to the Assembly around the corner, the employees hope that whichever front comes to power will give due consideration to the requirements of the board, which is still the only government body with the expertise and experience to meet the massive housing shortage in the State, especially for the economically weaker sections. While there are banks and financial institutions that help the upper strata of society meet their housing requirements, around 80 per cent of the population falls outside that category. The Housing Board has assets of Rs.2,135 crore and liabilities of over Rs. 750 crore, which it owes to HUDCO.

The unions, cutting across the party divide, wrote to the State Planning Board recently, highlighting the problems it faced. Among the major points raised in the letter was the requirement for Plan assistance. The money, it said, would meet the immediate working capital requirement of the housing board, which had successfully implemented the State government's housing programmes in the past and is still entrusted with the task of building homes for the tsunami-affected people in various parts of the State.

The Planning Board's help has been sought so that provision can be made to make good the revenue deficit of the board through budgetary support.

K. A. Martin