Govt constructs less than half of 622 BSUP dwellings for the poor
SRINAGAR: The faulty implementation of the ‘Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP)’ scheme introduced by the Government of India (GoI) has deprived hundreds of families of benefits promised under the scheme as less than half the proposed dwelling units have been completed.
Launched seven years ago in 2010 for the overall rehabilitation of the city-dwelling poor, around Rs 22 crores were allocated for the scheme that would secure tenure for poor urban families at affordable prices, with improved housing, water supply and sanitation at a fund ratio of 90:10 with federal government contributing 90 percent of the funds and the J&K government the remaining 10 percent.
Officials privy to the details told Kashmir Reader that 287 dwelling units were constructed in Srinagar out of a total 622 units proposed. Even the construction cost of the dwellings exceeded the allocated amount by more than 50 lakhs.
“In Tibetan Colony, the estimated cost of construction for 18 units was Rs 50.33 lakhs. But the same were constructed by utilising Rs 105.85 lakhs, resulting in excess expenditure of Rs 55. 63 lakh, more than double of the original cost. No reasons have been cited for the cost escalation,” an official at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said.
He said that contracts for the construction of 382 units and allied works at three locations – Sumer Bugh (246), Behrar (100), and Tibetan Colony (36) – were allotted in February 2010 and November 2011 to different contractors with a completion period of 12 to 18 months.
However, he says, the contractors carried out the work at a snail’s pace and subsequently abandoned the project midway, forcing the authorities to retender the contracts. “The defaulting contractors, as per the terms and conditions of the contract, were liable to pay a penalty of Rs 28.50 lakhs, which was never imposed on them,” he said.
Strangely, a project of some 240 dwelling units at Wanganpora in Eidgah could not be started due to its survey not being conducted “properly” and “faulty estimation of cost proposal”, resulting in a denial of settlement to potential beneficiaries.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, Commissioner SMC Riyaz Ahmad Wani said that the incomplete work was due to “non-favourable” situations that caused delays. “Besides, acquisition of the desired land also caused delay and cost-escalation of the project. Moreover, we had to change some specifications of DPR of the project, like at Tibetan Colony, and that actually escalated the cost,” he said.
Queried over the non-starting of the Wanaganpora project, he said it could not be undertaken because the land acquired for it was unsuitable. “The land there (in Wanganpora) was too marshy, and constructing units on it would have escalated costs to three times higher than that proposed,” he said.
He said that around Rs 14 crores were received by the SMC for the project and the rest of the eight crores due were withheld by the GoI after the SMC could not finish the Wanganpora project. About the penalty for the defaulting contractors, he said the matter was sub-judice and they are “pursuing the case” in the court.
The BSUP was launched with the aim of an integrated development of basic services to poor urban families, which would include security of tenure at affordable prices and improved housing, water supply and sanitation with delivery ensured through a convergence of other pre-existing universal services of the government for education, health and social security.