A proposal to restart construction of the in-situ rehabilitation project of families displaced during the 2014 demolition of Kalyannagar slums has finally reached the Standing Committee of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). The Standing Committee will now deliberate on the proposal, which seeks an approval for the cost escalation.
Representatives of the displaced families, however, have urged the Standing Committee chairman to clear the proposal at the earliest to reduce the financial burden on the VMC, arising out of the monthly rental allowance which is to be given to the families.
The proposal sent by the Affordable Housing Department of the VMC comes six weeks after the deadlock over the Kalyannagar scheme seemingly came to an end with the VMC agreeing to restart the construction that was stalled last March.
The decision was reached after the beneficiaries of the scheme — 580 in total, including displaced families of the Kamatipura scheme — agreed to share the burden of the additional cost to be borne by the civic body to complete the project. Each of the families, which had to earlier pay about Rs 1.25 lakh, agreed to pay Rs 4.11 lakh as revised contribution to get their homes. Almost six weeks later, the VMC has finally put forth the proposal before the Standing Committee.
“We have sought approval to increase the cost of the project and also indicated that the beneficiaries are ready to bear the burden of the increased cost in addition to their 12 per cent mandatory contribution as part of the original project report,” Navendu Parikh, executive engineer for Affordable Housing of the VMC, said.
On Monday, Professor and social activist JS Bandukwala, who has been leading the agitation of the 486 Muslim families of Kalyannagar since 2014, wrote a letter to the Standing Committee chairman Jigisha Seth, seeking expedition of the decision on the proposal.
“Of about 2000 displaced families, nearly 486 have not yet been rehabilitated. The VMC pays each of these families a monthly rental of Rs 3,000. So far, the VMC has already spent about Rs 5 crore on rent of these evictees. We have repeatedly urged the authorities to expedite the construction process. It is in VMC’s interest to complete the same as fast as possible,” Bandukwala wrote in the letter.
“With monsoon ahead, we are afraid the completion (of the project) may go beyond May 2019. That would entail an additional rental of about Rs 2.2 crores for the VMC. The delay is hurting the VMC’s finances as well as the affected families. I urge you to clear this Kalyannagar file at your next meeting on April 19,” Bandukwala added.
Seth said that arriving at a decision about Kalyannagar could take a few more days as the current proposal sent by the Municipal Commissioner is clubbed with various other housing schemes. “The proposal contains details of several other housing projects that are ongoing in the city and is not exclusively about Kalyannagar. Therefore, we have to go through it in detail to understand the point it is trying to make. The point made by Dr. Bandukwala about VMC’s financial burden is true. But, we have paid the rent so far and until we decide about the project and complete it, we will pay the rent. We will certainly prioritize this project after going through the proposal,” Seth said.