Government employees in Puducherry have, for long, been demanding that their quarters in Lawspet be improved . They also want the dilapidated structures be replaced with new buildings.
Around 604 quarters were constructed at Lawspet over the years, some around a decade ago, for use by employees including senior bureaucrats.
The poor maintenance and deteriorating conditions have led to several staff vacating the flats and moving out of the area. Some of them have moved out after the hike in house rent allowance. Currently, only 392 are occupied and others have been remaining vacant for years.
“Getting an accommodation at Lawspet was a prestigious matter among the government officers during earlier days. Those days it was difficult to get admission but now the situation has become different due to unsafe condition of the building. It is a fact that many staff have moved out because of the high rent allowance, but hundreds of staff are willing to occupy if amenities are improved in the existing complex,” said a senior official.
Several employees living in rural areas are ready to shift to the quarters considering the comforts of living in the town and to offer better education of their wards. “But they are not ready to shift considering the unsafe condition of the existing quarters at Lawspet,” he added.
One of the occupants of a quarter said those who continued to reside in the apartment blocks were facing difficulty due to the deteriorating condition of the civil structure. The roofing and walls had developed cracks. Electrical fittings had sustained damage, he added.
“Many of the apartments leak when it rains heavily. Around ₹6,000 to ₹15,000 is deducted from the salary for those who have occupied the quarters. At least ₹4 crore will be recovered from us annually, but the money goes into the general fund. We have been demanding creation of a separate account for using the deducted amount for maintenance work, “he added.
The authorities are yet to provide a proper sewer line and take up regular cleaning in the area. “Thick vegetation has grown in several areas. Even venomous snakes have been found in the bushes. The municipality can even develop the vast area available for children’s playground after cleaning. The entire area is poorly maintained. The maintenance works are carried out only during a VIP visit to the airport or helipad,” said another occupant.
According to an official in the Public Works Department, there is a proposal to renovate the existing blocks and construct a 13-block new complex. “There are around 212 old quarters remaining vacant. Heavily dilapidated structures will be demolished and new buildings will be constructed. Others will be renovated,” said an official.
The department was in the process of preparing a detailed project report for the construction of 13 blocks. Each apartment would measure 900 square feet. The project would cost around ₹ 50 crore, the official added.