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50 years of development in five years post-tsunami: officials

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Houses constructed by an NGO for the tsunami-affected in Nagapattinam.
Houses constructed by an NGO for the tsunami-affected in Nagapattinam.

P.V. Srividya

Over 2,227 houses will be constructed in Nagapattinam

NAGAPATTINAM: The district has seen the equivalent of 50 years of development over five years, say district officials here. Five years after the tsunami claimed over 7,000 lives, there is a certain administrative placidity to the claims and contestations of the tsunami-affected.

According to official statistics, of the 19,736 houses that were taken up for construction post-tsunami, over 19,000 were completed and handed over to beneficiaries. The figures include 17,701 constructed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 2,035 by the government. While NGOs have long constructed and withdrawn from the scene, about 667 houses are under construction by the government.

The magnitude of post-tsunami rehabilitation forced the government to engage NGOs in the construction of permanent houses on Public-Private Partnership mode. The government provided land, and the NGOs met the cost of construction, within the government-stipulated cost and design parameters. However, infrastructure of roads, drainage, sanitation and drinking water were held as the mandates of the government. Therefore, houses came up first, followed by roads, which has caused flooding of most tsunami colonies in low-lying areas.

Delays in land identification and transfer of ownership meant escalation costs for NGOs. For some, funds had depleted. Construction work left to contractors proved dismal in a few areas. Hike in demand for labour and construction materials meant inability to meet the requirements within the marked cost

There was an absence of understanding of the coastal community’s habits and coastal geography. Colonies that were provided with toilet facilities had leach tanks that are unscientific for coastal areas afflicted with high water seepage.

Therefore, permanent shelter projects are the sites of acrimony in tsunami-ravaged districts.

The remaining few NGOs, who had shifted to capacity building among the coastal communities, are also on withdrawal mode.

Phase II rehabilitation

Emergency Tsunami Reconstruction Project (ETRP) that was in vogue in tsunami-affected districts has been re-formulated to include a component of Vulnerability Reduction of Coastal Communities (VRCC). The Word Bank-aided project is being financed through a credit component from the International Development Association (IDA).

ETRP-VRCC will cover all habitations that fall within 200 to 1,000 m of high-tide line from the coast. It will focus on thatched houses, mud-walled shelters and houses on ‘patta’ lands situated within the specified distance from the coast and vulnerable to disasters. In contrast to Phase I, ownership of patta lands is the primary criteria.

Over 2,227 houses would be constructed in Nagapattinam.

The project entails an estimated total cost of Rs.66.81 crore with a construction cost of Rs.3 lakh per unit. Phase II tsunami reconstruction project is being implemented by the Department of Rural Development with a selected NGO as a third-party facilitator.

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