Sri Lankan Resettlement Ministry rebuts criticism on new housing project

It's reaction: one cannot compare apples with oranges.

April 23, 2016 06:44 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:55 am IST - COLOMBO:

“One cannot compare apple with oranges.”

This is how the Sri Lanka government’s Resettlement Ministry has reacted to the criticism over the unit cost of houses to be built under the latest project of 65,000 houses in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief R. Sampanthan and Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran argued that at least two houses, if not three, could be constructed under the given unit cost of over Rs. two million.

Figure arrived at, carefully

In its detailed response, the Ministry stated that the unit cost of the latest project – Rs. 2.18 million – had been arrived at, after taking into account the cost of various components and without including taxes.

Each prefabricated house would, among others, have a kitchen with pantry cupboard; gas cylinder; cooker; cooking utensils; a dining table and four chairs; three pieces of sofa sets; a television set along with a stand; three standing fans; a laptop with WiFi facility; a solar panel; a tube well and a 500-litre water tank.

Making a comparison with housing projects of other wings of the Sri Lanka government, the Ministry said that the unit cost of the plantation housing programme was Rs. 1.2 million and that of the Meeriabatta housing programme of the Sri Lanka Army, 1.3 million. When the Resettlement Ministry had carried out a housing project with owner-driven model, the unit cost was Rs. eight lakh.

Cost excluded facilities

Even one of the bidders of the latest project had cited about Rs. 1.31 million as the unit cost of a conventional house with a toilet. In all these cases, the cost element did not cover the facilities that were being envisaged under the new project.

The Ministry said the temperature inside the proposed house would be three degree Celsius – five degree Celsius lower than what would be outside. This was because of insulation technology to be adopted.

Two model houses had been put up in Jaffna for demonstration purposes and getting feedback on “cultural, social and environmental suitability” of the houses.

Agency: ArcelorMittal Construction France

On the selection of ArcelorMittal Construction France as the executing agency, the Ministry said eight companies had submitted documents for “request for proposals (RFP).” In the first stage of fulfilling technical criteria, six firms did not qualify and so, their financial proposals were not opened. The only two companies -- ArcelorMittal and EPI-OCPL Consortium -- were qualified technically and they had submitted bid security for Rs. 650 million. Of the two, only ArcelorMittal had provided a detailed financial package. This was how it was chosen, the Ministry added.

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