Kalvathy housing projects put in cold storage

Officials say it would now require ₹39 crore to finish the housing project conceived under the Rajiv Awas Yojana seven years ago.  

Nearly three years after work began and seven years after a detailed project report was prepared, the Kochi Corporation has been unable to offer homes promised to 398 landless people of Thuruthy, Kalvathy, and Koncheri in West Kochi.

The two 12-storey towers that were conceived under the then UPA government’s Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) scheme remain entangled in procedural delays.

The contractor began work on the first tower in 2017 and was expected to complete it by February 2019, but essentials like plumbing and electrification had been omitted from the cost estimate. After a long delay and squabbles at the corporation council over whether or not the existing contractor’s agreement must be extended, the council decided to allow the contractor to finish work as per the initial agreement. But the revised estimate had not been placed before the council yet, said Mayor Soumini Jain.

In the absence of a supplementary agreement and the non-payment of nearly ₹1.5 crore of dues owed to him, the contractor went to court, said sources associated with the project.

A High Court order issued last month required the corporation council to take a decision within one month on approving the revised estimate for the project and executing another agreement with the contractor.

Hopes dashed

“When the project was launched, we had hopes of having a house where we would not have to pay thousands of rupees as rent every month. We have exhausted ourselves running after its implementation and no longer know whom to approach to ensure it gets done,” said Sheeja, a seamstress and resident of Thuruthy. “The project appears to have been stalled by bickering along political lines and the beneficiaries are caught in the mess,” she said.

“Even once the current contractor begins work, he can only complete structural work on about six floors of the building as per the estimate of ₹18 crore,” sources said. The corporation will have to re-tender the rest of the work, further delaying the project. To finish it entirely, the project would cost around ₹39 crore.

Meanwhile, the construction of the second RAY tower for 199 families, at a cost of ₹46 crore, adjacent to the first one at Kalvathy also appears to have been stalled. The corporation council had in January approved a decision to hand over the construction of the second tower to Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML). But with only a single bidder responding to the first tender invite, a second attempt at tendering the work would be made this week, CSML sources said.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 4:38:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kalvathy-housing-projects-put-in-cold-storage/article32104715.ece

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