K. Subramanian

Expected to be over only by the first quarter of next year

NAGAPATTINAM: Several non-governmental organisations, constructing permanent houses for tsunami victims in various parts of the district, are struggling to complete them owing to a steep increase in the cost of construction materials such as cement, bricks and sand. Besides, there is a short supply of these materials in many areas. Non-availability of adequate construction workers, including masons, has compounded the problem.

While the State Government is taking steps to provide permanent houses to all the tsunami-affected families before the onset of Northeast monsoon in October, construction work of all the houses is expected to be over only by the first quarter of next year.

Collector Tenkasi S.Jawahar said recently that 1,000 houses had been constructed and handed over to beneficiaries out of the targeted 19,000 houses in 76 locations in the district and pointed out that the Government had provided more than 300 hectares of land to 45 NGOs free of cost for construction of the houses. He said that the remaining 8,000 houses would be completed and handed over to the tsunami-affected families before the onset of Northeast monsoon.

A cross-section of the tsunami-affected families residing in the permanent houses told The Hindu that most of the NGOs had built beautiful houses but many colonies were lacking in basic amenities, including drainage and sanitary facilities. However, a visit to the permanent houses built at Vizhundamavadi, revealed that the residents were happy about all facilities.

R. Bhakther Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Development Promotion Group (DPG), a Chennai-based NGO, said that the DPG took up construction of 839 houses in six coastal villages in Nagapattinam and Tuticorin districts; 604 houses were built and handed over to the beneficiaries. It is presently constructing the remaining houses in Kameshwaram and Vellapallam in Nagapattinam district.

Cost of materials

Mr. Solomon said that many NGOs were facing problems due to escalation of construction materials.

The cost of a chamber brick, which was quoted at Rs.1.90 to Rs.2.20 at the time of starting the project in 2005, is now selling at Rs.2.90 to Rs.3.10. Similarly, the price of a cement bag of 50 kg that was sold at Rs.132 in 2005 is now quoted at Rs.232. The cost of labour has also gone up steeply from Rs.85 per sq.ft., inclusive of civil, carpentry and electric works, to Rs.135.

The NGOs are to construct the house as per Government norms on a plinth area of 324 sq.ft at Rs.1.80 lakh to Rs.2 lakh. But they are struggling to complete the houses at this cost, which is expected to touch Rs.2.50 to Rs.3 lakh now, he said.