K. Lakshmi

Beneficiaries seek increase in grant to complete their houses

Beneficiary’s share to build a house has increased manifold from the estimated Rs.8,000

Demand to be discussed with higher officials at the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration

CHENNAI: As the Madhavaram Municipality gets ready to hand over the first batch of houses constructed under the Basic Services for Urban Poor scheme to 31 residents in a few days, many beneficiaries have voiced concern over the escalating cost of construction materials. The soaring prices are coming in the way of the completion of their houses, they said.

The 433 underprivileged residents were chosen to be provided with grant to build new houses under the BSUP scheme, which aims to improve the housing facilities and infrastructure in slums.

The beneficiaries were identified in 19 slums, including Periasekkadu, Udayar Thottam, Maduramettupalayam and Vasumudali Thottam. Most of them are unorganised sector workers who earn Rs.70 to Rs.90 every day.

Residents of Madhavaram said of the total estimated cost of Rs.80,000 to construct a house of area ranging from 250 sq.ft. to 450 sq.ft., each beneficiary was provided a grant of Rs.72,000 under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

However, beneficiaries in Udayar Thottam said that they were struggling to raise their share of the cost to finish construction. The escalating price of the construction materials in the past six months has hiked the project cost to Rs.1.30 lakh to construct a house of an area of 300 sq.ft.

On an average, the beneficiary’s share to build a house has increased manifold from the estimated Rs.8,000 . This has forced several beneficiaries to borrow money at exorbitant interest rate to transform their thatched huts to concrete houses, they said.

Beneficiaries demanded that the grant amount be increased to achieve the purpose of the scheme to upgrade the slums.

An official of the Madhavaram Municipality said that of the 433 units to be built as part of the first phase, 31 houses have been completed so far. The new houses would be handed over to the beneficiaries by Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi at a function to be held at Avadi on Saturday.

While 34 more houses are nearing completion, construction work is under progress in the remaining units. Of the Rs.5.42 crore allotted to the local body under the BSUP scheme, nearly Rs.3.46 crore has been disbursed to the beneficiaries for constructing houses.

The remaining amount would be used to improve the infrastructure in the slums, including laying new roads, improving parks, streetlights, providing burial grounds and remodelling noon-meal centres, the official said. Tenders are to be floated soon to take up infrastructure development in 19 slums.

Admitting that the pace of construction has slowed down, the official said residents’ demand to increase the grant due to increasing cost of building materials would be discussed with the higher officials at the Commissionerate of Municipal Administration.