Construction conundrumhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/construction-conundrum-5452857/

Construction conundrum

As Chandigarh Housing Board comes up with another scheme — this time, to build 492 flats in Sector 53 —  there is a need to go back to the drawing board as there are too many schemes but too little housing relief on the ground.

Construction conundrum
While the CHB plans to make these houses in Sector 53 in a modern design, those which have already been constructed are ailing.

The new housing scheme of Chandigarh Housing Board in which 492 flats will come up in Sector 53 will be the board’s second housing scheme in three years. However, the one which was launched in 2016 is yet to see the light of day as the construction is not completed.

While the CHB plans to make these houses in Sector 53 in a modern design, those which have already been constructed are ailing. Residents residing in CHB units feel that units should be architecturally sound and residents should not feel constrained to carry out need-based changes in the new houses.

In Sector 53, the scheme which will be launched in the first week of December, as many as 192 units will be three-bedroom flats which will be constructed with a facility of twin basements on a total covered area of 2,504 square feet. As many as 100 units will be two-bedroom flats with a basement on a total covered area of 2,122 square feet. There will be 120 units of one-bedroom flats and 80 of EWS.

There will be a drawing room, kitchen, bedrooms, toilets, store, front courtyard for ground floor and balconies for upper floors. Also, there would be provision for lifts in all the towers. And, apart from solar power generation facility there, CCTVs would also be installed. The project will come up on an area of 8.98 acres at a cost of Rs 200 crore.

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Of the total 492 flats, there will be 285 flats which will be for general category while all others would be reserved under different categories.

Nirmal Dutt, president of the Chandigarh Housing Board Welfare Federation, said that the dwelling units the board has prepared are not architecturally sound and also the board should not compromise on quality of material.

“The existing units have a number of problems. The houses in Sector 63 constructed just three years back already have leakages in its units now. Also, in the old duplex units constructed by board, the architecture has not been properly planned like a washroom has been made on the top most floor for those residing on the second, first and ground floor. The board should not leave anything for people to carry out need-based changes,” he said.

He added, “Moreover, they shouldn’t use worthless material too. People in the old CHB houses have carried out renovation three to four times.”

Prem Kaushik, non-official member of the Chandigarh Housing Board, said that they will ensure that architecture is good and quality is not compromised. “Yes, we keep getting representations from people staying in existing CHB houses about problems they face. We will be regularising the need- based changes too. All other issues which residents face will be looked into in the upcoming scheme,” he said.

However, the CHB is expecting a good response from this scheme. “We are expecting an overwhelming response. We just hope that the rates may not act as a dampener,” a senior official of the Chandigarh Housing Board said.

The official added that in case the board decides to give the units on market rates, the cost of a three-bedroom unit may touch up to Rs 1.25 crore.

Already, under construction are 200 flats in Sector 51, a general housing scheme of the board which was launched in 2016. Board officials are hopeful that the work is likely to be completed by June next year. The construction got delayed by two years due to encroachments on the land and litigation. Allotees though faced a tough time as they had already made complete payment in advance.

Land measuring 4.48 acres in Sector 51 was earmarked for the project, but around one acre had been in possession of three saw mills since 1988. The mill owners were in litigation against the Chandigarh Administration seeking rehabilitation.

The allottees paid more than Rs 70 lakh for the flats within 90 days from the date of issuance of an acceptance-cum-demand letter as per the terms and conditions but are still waiting for the construction to be completed.

Employees housing scheme: Architect raises red flag

After 10 years, finally the Employees Housing Scheme which was introduced in 2008 has seen the light of day. The flats will come up in Sector 53. Drawings of these flats approved by the town and planning department of the UT Administration has invited the ire of the architect of the Chandigarh Housing Board who states that these have been made with amendments.

A letter sent by CHB architect to Chief Architect UT Administration last week highlights different shortcomings.

In the layout plans, it was said, “The width of green space between the blocks of 3BR and 2BR, after plotting on true scale, gets reduced to 13.05 metre which is lesser than the minimum permissible width of 13.715 metre as per bylaws. On account of above, the overall green becomes lesser than the minimum permissible limit of 15 per cent. 1.5 expansion joints have been provided, which is less than the minimum width of 8 required under the latest building code.”

In the category of basement parking plan, it was stated that in the drawings, distribution of parking to all dwelling units of 3BR category is not equitable. “The basement parking provided in the service block is not a preferred choice by most people,” it further added.

According to the Chandigarh Housing Board, it will complete the construction of around 564 apartments under the UT Employees Housing Scheme by 2022 on the land measuring 11.795 acres, which has already been transferred to it by the Chandigarh Administration.

As many as 3,930 allottees were expected to get the apartments under the 2008 Self-Financing Housing Scheme for UT Employees but it remained pending due to the dispute between the UT Administration and Chandigarh Housing Board. Finally, after the intervention of Punjab and Haryana High Court, the pending plan was kicked off.

Nothing in sight in Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna yet

After a long survey, the Chandigarh Housing Board had initially shortlisted only 444 people out of 1.3 lakh who applied to get the houses under the PMAY. However, after a nudge by the Centre to conduct a fresh survey and then construct houses, the project has been hanging in the balance for one year. As per the fresh survey, as many as 10,035 people have been found eligible who will be given new houses.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation had asked the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) to review all the rejected cases again. As per an initial survey by the Deputy Commissioner’s office, there were 1,113 such cases where people already have residential properties in other parts of the country, whereas the eligibility criteria has specified that one cannot have any house or residential plot anywhere in India. Other than this, the department found that there were 8,660 cases where several members of the same family had applied for the dwelling units. There were many whose documents were not complete and they were given an opportunity to complete them again, following which 10,035 people were shortlisted to be given the houses.

Being a state-level nodal agency for the implementation of this mission, CHB had carried out a demand survey on EWS, LIG and MIG households in the urban areas of Chandigarh. To provide affordable housing to all by 2022, the Centre has launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Housing for All (Urban).

The board now says that they will require additional land for construction of these units and asked Ministry of Home to provide more than 100 acres to them on subsidised rates so that affordable houses could be made available to city residents under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

“A Cabinet note on a proposal to allow transfer of the land has been sent by UT Administration. We need around 100 acres of land for this project and accordingly there will be a pressure of infrastructure on the city as well, since water, electricity, all the basic amenities have to be provided,” a senior official of the board said.

Under the existing law, the administration cannot allot the land below the market price, which is very high in the city.

Rehabilitation scheme; Construction completed, waiting for Prime Minister 

The Chandigarh Housing Board constructed 4,960 flats at Maloya for slum dwellers. The construction got completed in 2016 but there were several works which were to be done by the Municipal Corporation like setting up sewerage treatment plant, water supply, parks and various other amenities. For the last few months, the administration has been waiting if PM could give a date and keys could be handed over to slum dwellers.

These are one-room flats for the EWS people.

A total of 18 colonies have been identified by the administration, whose inhabitants are to be rehabilitated in flats constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The rehabilitation scheme is being executed by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) and to date, 12,736 tenements have been constructed and handed over under different schemes in the previous years to 23,974 identified slum dwellers on the basis of biometric survey done in 2006.

Auction in IT Park fails

Not a single bidder turned up at the auction of the residential and commercial sites at IT Park in the e-auction conducted by the Chandigarh Housing Board. The board has now decided to develop the site on its own. “The high prices and slump in the market didn’t make our auction successful,” a CHB officer said.

The reserve price of a 4.55-acre residential plot at the Rajiv Chandigarh Technology Park (IT Park) was pegged at Rs 181.39 crore while a school plot, spread over 4.5 acres, has its reserve price as Rs 188.37 crore.

The reserve price of the hospital plot, spread over 8.23 acre, was the highest — Rs 344.03 crore. There are a total of 13 sites, which were auctioned for housing colonies on 123 acres of land under the habitat project. Although there are 15 sites, 13 of them would be auctioned to builders or developers while on the other two sites, CHB will be constructing 600 flats.

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It was last year that CHB got back the land from Parsvnath Developers. In October 2006, the board had decided to develop this site with the Parsvnath Developers. However, the project could not be launched. Later in 2016, CHB took the land back after paying over Rs 560 crore. Now, in this project, the 123 acres would be used not only for a housing colony but for a five-star hotel, gymnasium, swimming pool, club, community centre and marriage hall as well.