Employees are sensing a new lease of life for the Kerala State Housing Board (KSHB) with the possibility of reviving a few pending projects to leverage its land holdings and the State Budget earmarking ₹10 crore for a housing scheme for the economically weaker sections and low income groups and reviving a subsidised scheme under the ‘Grihasree’ programme to build 415 houses for which ₹12.45 crore has been set aside.
The Finance Minister has promised to initiate discussions with financial agencies to avail loans for future housing schemes, which is a good sign for the board, said S. Jayakumar, general secretary of KSHB Employees’ Organisation. There is also a promise to look into revision of salaries in the near future, which has buoyed the spirit of the employees, he added, referring to recent discussions with the Minister.
Increasing the subsidy component in the Grihasree housing programme from ₹2 lakh to ₹3 lakh is an incentive for more people to come forward to utilise the facility, said K.J. Xavier, KSHB Employees’ Union. The budget announcement of new housing schemes with a loan component like Grihasree was made after the Mythri housing programme closed around 20 years ago.
The KSHB has so far started work on around 3,800 houses under the Gihashree scheme, and more projects are expected with the subsidy component being increased by the government.
Besides, there is an expected revival of some major development programmes to utilise the land owned by the board in different towns in the State. It has nearly finalised plans to build six housing units at the satellite township at Padamugal in Ernakulam on 15 cents.
The employees also expect the government to provide for pension and other arrears of retired employees in a phased manner. Besides, with the activities looking set to revive, trade unions expect the government to release the money it owes to the KSHB in different tranches as the government’s financial position allows.
The State Budget has also earmarked ₹4 crore for the ‘Ashwas’ programme under which temporary stays will be built close to medical colleges for those accompanying patients. Along with this, ₹9.50 crore has been set aside for building rental spaces for government employees to stay. A women’s postgraduate hostel has also been planned, and the work on which will be handed over to the KSHB. An amount of ₹1 crore has been set aside for the programme.