Nearly 500 displaced families of Kalyannagar, who have been awaiting their new homes as part of the in-situ rehabilitation and were promised a rental compensation of Rs 3,000 each until the completion of the construction, are likely to either bear the cost of the rent or be back on the streets as they have been asked to to vacate the rented premises. They have written to the VMC, stating that the disbursement of rent is pending since October 2016. The civic body claims that the escalation of costs has put the entire project under “review”.
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On Thursday, Dr J S Bandukwala, dispatched a memorandum to VMC Commissioner Vinod Rao through representatives, urging the civic body to take urgent action in the matter. Bandukwala said, “After the families were left homeless in November 2014, and a sustained agitation was carried out for their relocation, the VMC had proposed an in-situ rehabilitation in Kalyannagar. Until the time the construction is complete, the families were promised a rental allowance of Rs 3,000 each. This went smoothly for 15 months. And then it has stopped since October 2016. The families have been asked to vacate their rented homes. We urge the Municipal Commissioner to take urgent note of this matter.”
Bandukwala had led an agitation of the 1921 Muslim families of Kalyannagar that were left homeless in November 2014 and thereafter, in March 2015, the VMC cancelled a housing draw conducted in Sayajipura, owing to protests from “Hindu residents” against moving Muslim families in their “peaceful, developing neighbourhood”. After several months of negotiations involving politicians from the ruling party and Muslim representatives, an amicable solution was reached and the VMC proposed to construct an in-situ accommodation for nearly 600 families that were left displaced. Out of these 600 families, the VMC had found 362 to be genuine, and later revised its list to nearly 500 families, who were enrolled as beneficiaries and were liable to receive a rental allowance of Rs 3,000 per month.
A former official of the VMC affordable housing department said that the total rent disbursed to the families until September 2016 was Rs 15 lakh per month. However, since October 2016, the funds for the project were found to be insufficient and the rental disbursement was withheld. When The Indian Express visited the site of the Kalyannagar redevelopment on Thursday, the construction contractor said that the work on the project had been stalled for over a week due to non-payment of dues to the construction company. Rao said, “The construction has not ceased. It is going on, but there is an issue of escalating cost of the construction. We will revisit the entire proposal.”