By LIKHAVEER | INNLIVE
The Telangana state government's ambitious scheme of building two-bedroom houses is struggling to take off more than two years after chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao promised free houses for the poor. Grappling with issues related to the programme, housing minister Indrakaran Reddy says the scheme is suffering from teething troubles.
"Once it starts, there will be no looking back and we can finish building 2.65 lakh houses within a year. But, the catch is that it is taking time to take off," he told INNLIVE.
Except for 396 houses that the government distributed to beneficiaries last year at IDH Colony in Secunderabad, the scheme has hardly shown any progress. As many as 285 houses are near-completion in Erravelli and over 3,000 houses in Mahbubnagar and 500 in Warangal are under construction. Elsewhere, the work is yet to start with the foundation stones laid in some assembly constituencies waiting for the houses to come up.
"Performance of the government in housing sector is dismal and the numbers are telling. Apart from sincerity, the government has to have a pragmatic approach and scientific plan. Otherwise, the scheme will only remain on paper and would never be beneficial for the poor," said Satya Babu Bose, director of budget centre and governance accountability, listing some of the challenges before the government on this front.
Ironically, shortage of funds is not the reason for the slow progress. Although, the government made budgetary allocations, Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (Hudco) sanctioned Rs 12,000 crore for the scheme for the current financial year against the Rs 4,000 crore it granted last financial year. The programme remained mostly on paper.
"The main reason for the delay is lack of enthusiasm among contractors to build houses. Negotiations with contractors are still on to arrive at a consensus on cost of construction," said Indrakaran Reddy. Originally, the government had fixed Rs 800 per sft and later increased it to Rs 900 per sft.
The contractors, however, are seeking a minimum of Rs 1,100 per sft and the negotiations have been inconclusive since May, when the two sides began talks. The houses are estimated to cost Rs 5.30 lakh in urban areas and Rs 5.04 lakh in rural areas. With contractors being reluctant, the government called for tenders at the assembly constituency level, but there were hardly any bids.
"I will be addressing the concerns of contractors with KCR," Indrakaran said.