A year after the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) suspended the construction of the rehabilitation project of over 500 displaced Muslim families of Kalyannagar, citing exhaustion of funds, it seems that the deadlock will see a resolution. The VMC is all set to move a proposal before the Standing Committee, seeking a go-ahead to restart the construction of the project after the beneficiaries agreed to bear a proportion of the additional cost to be incurred by the civic body to complete the project, Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao said on Thursday.
Close to 580 beneficiaries, who were to be rehabilitated in-situ at Kalyannagar under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) scheme after a resolution to the effect was passed in May 2015, have agreed to share the burden of the additional cost to be borne by the civic body to complete the construction of the project. The families, who as beneficiaries of RAY, had to pay about Rs 1.25 lakh each earlier, have agreed to pay Rs 4.11 lakh as a revised contribution to get their homes. In a written resolution submitted to the VMC, the families have stated that they are willing to increase their share of contribution towards the project so that the civic body can restart the work and complete the project.
Zuber Goplani, who is one of the activists representing the families, said, “After talks with the VMC to end this deadlock over the homes, we were told that each family must pay Rs 6.5 lakh to help complete the construction. We held a meeting with the families and decided on a final figure of Rs 4.11 lakh. The suspension of the project or the exhaustion of funds is not the fault of the poor families, but they have agreed to pay more as they are in need of their homes. For over three years now, the displaced families have been paying heavy rents to find accommodation in the city. We are also looking at options to get a 15-year loan sanctioned for the families so that they can pay the sum in installments.”
The families have submitted their undertakings in writing to the civic body which will now finalise the process on Monday. The decision to resolve the issue of the Kalyannagar rehabilitation comes after the displaced families held a symbolic hunger strike on the premises of the VMC in January, seeking their monthly rental allowance (Rs 3,000) for the previous seven months, which had been suspended by the VMC in an attempt to make the families accept an alternate accommodation in Tandalja area. In February, the VMC released the rental compensation for the previous seven months after Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani joined the agitating families, led by activist J S Bandukwala. Then, the VMC had also suggested that it was “open” to completing the project, which was suspended in March last year, citing exhaustion of funds of Rs 80 crore sanctioned for the project.
Rao stated that the administrative wing of the VMC would soon move a proposal before the Standing Committee to restart the construction on the project. Rao said, “The families have given in writing that they are willing to pay Rs 4.11 lakh for the flat. We are working out the possibility of completing the project. We will move a proposal before the standing committee for the same after ascertaining the shortfall of funds and making attempts to make up for it. The project will continue under the RAY scheme with only an increased contribution from the beneficiaries.”
The VMC had, in November 2014, under the Smart City Project, demolished 1,921 homes of poor and lower middle class families in Kalyannagar. Of these families, 1,440 were shifted to the Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) housing in Tarsali, Pratapnagar, Maneja and Kishanwadi. The VMC decided to rehabilitate the remaining 550 Muslim families in the BSUP housing scheme in Sayajipura area and even completed the process of the housing draw in February 2015.
However, following “protests”, purportedly by local Hindu residents, who opposed Muslim families moving into their neighbourhood, the VMC withdrew the decision, leaving the families in a lurch. Ever since, the VMC has been unable to resettle the families, despite its promise in May 2015 for the construction of in-situ homes in Kalyannagar, based on a compromise reached to end the agitation of the families. Eventually, the VMC cited exhaustion of funds meant for the construction, bringing the construction to a grinding halt.