Singanallur flat issue: TNHB left in confusion

A few residents in the dilapidated flats in TNHB Colony, Singanallur, in the city seem to be too keen to hold on to their property even at the cost of endangering their lives.

A few residents in the dilapidated flats in TNHB Colony, Singanallur, in the city seem to be too keen to hold on to their property even at the cost of endangering their lives.   | Photo Credit: S_SIVA SARAVANAN

No consensus among residents; their political affiliations add to the problem; plan almost ready, says Board official

Building consensus is far more difficult than constructing flats, is perhaps a lesson that the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) seems to have learnt from its experience in Singanallur TNHB Colony.

The Colony has 960 flats that the TNHB constructed in 1984 on 17.50 acre, off Trichy Road, behind Uzhavar Sandhai (farmers’ market).

At the time of construction, the TNHB had built three types of flats – the first category of 636 houses measuring 250 sq.ft. for people from low income group (LIG), the second category of 276 houses measuring 450 sq.ft. for people from middle income group (MIG), and the third category of 48 houses measuring 650 sq.ft. for people from high income group (HIG).

Thirty-five years after construction, the Colony is in the news for a variety of reasons but centred around the fact that the flats are so dilapidated that they could collapse any time. The poor condition of the flats has forced around 300 occupants to vacate the houses over a period of time, leaving only 660-odd residents living there.

The residents want the TNHB to demolish the flats and rebuild new ones. But not all have agreed to this demand. A section of the residents say that their houses are not dilapidated and are, in fact, in good condition, and therefore they do not need new houses.

But even among those who want new houses there appears to be neither unity nor unanimity in how to go about demolishing the dilapidated flats and asking the TNHB to construct new ones as the Colony residents have grouped themselves in to seven associations.

In a meeting held in the first week of December, the district administration had to invite the Singai Managar House Owners’ Welfare Association, Thirunagar Residents’ Welfare Association, Singai Nagar Bharathi House Owners’ Welfare Association, Singai TNHB Colony D Wing Jai Nagar Owners’ and Residents Welfare Association, Singai TNHB ABD House Owners’ and Residents General Welfare Association and a couple of others.

To add to the confusion, a few of the associations or its members are affiliated to one political party or the other. And they trying to cash-in on the issue of residents’ safety appears to have muddied the water further.

The administration officials say the division among the Colony residents does not end there. There are a couple of other categories as well – the first category of people to whom the TNHB allotted flats and handed over sale deeds after they paid all the dues – there are 700 such people, the second category of people to whom the TNHB allotted flats but has not issued the title deeds as they have not cleared the dues, and the third category of people who have bought flats from persons to whom the TNHB had allotted flats.

The third category of people had bought the flats when the allottees were still paying their dues to the TNHB. After entering in an arrangement with the allottees and having bought the houses, the third category people continued to pay dues but in the name of the allottees.

This has resulted in a situation where the TNHB has no dues against such houses but has records in the name of the allottees.

It is to this conundrum that the Colony residents want a solution, quips a senior district administration officer, adding that though the first step towards having a solution is forging a consensus, the residents appear lost. And, the TNHB too is finding it difficult to build the consensus.

To build this consensus, the administration held the meeting that was presided by Collector K. Rajamani.

In the meeting, the minutes of which are available with The Hindu, the administration made it clear that though the TNHB had sold the flats and has no legal obligation to repair or rebuild, it has on a goodwill basis agreed to take up the project.

The residents should give up their obdurate stand and cooperate fully for the TNHB to take up and successfully complete the project, the TNHB should make a provision for the third category of people who have paid the dues on behalf of the allottees but their names are not on the TNHB records, the 48 residents who have said that they did not want their houses rebuilt should change their stand as it is not feasible for the TNHB to take up the project by excluding them, and the TNHB should explore possibility of providing rental allowance for the flat owners for the period they will stay outside while it takes up construction, the administration said.

A TNHB officer says the organisation has not only agreed in principle to take up the project but also has a plan almost ready. But for the project to take off the residents should vacate the flats.

It plans to build not only 960 flats for the people living there but more as it has to meet the expenses for the building the 960 flats and giving those free of cost by selling the additional flats at market rate.

The 960 flats are in the ground-plus-two-storey arrangement but the new ones it proposes to construct will be ground-plus-five-storey format as it needs space to construct the additional flats, the officer also says. The new 960 flats it will construct for the residents will be more spacious than what they have now.

The LIG flats will measure 400 sq.ft., the MIG flats 600 sq.ft. and HIG flats 800 sq.ft.

But the residents seem to have a problem with this TNHB’s proposal. How can they give consent to demolish their flats and vacate houses when the TNHB has not committed its proposal in writing, asks the representatives of the Singai ABD House Owners’ and Residents General Welfare Association representative T.V. Krishnamurthy.

Singai TNHB Colony D Wing Jai Nagar Owners’ and Residents Welfare Association representative N. Radhakrishnan says the TNHB should assure his members that it will allot houses on the same floor they live at present.

But tabling such conditions only delays the consensus and leads to a situation where the residents will have no choice but to vacate the houses as the buildings weaken by the day, says M. Gunaseelan, president, Singai Nagar Bharathi House Owners’ Association. That appears to be easily said than done because the TNHB has been trying to build the consensus for the last 11 years, perhaps its longest project to date in the district.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 10:17:24 PM |

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