While the civic body prides itself on implementing housing schemes, it has been forced to cancel the contract of the housing project at Poonkulam, 15 years after the scheme was launched.
The civic body has terminated the contract of Nirmithi Kendra, the implementing agency, at its risk and cost and decided to re tender the project. The corporation had decided to engage an external agency; College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, to conduct a stability audit on the construction at Poonkulam that had not proceeded since 2010.
In 2018, the corporation directed Nirmithi Kendra to complete the remaining works. The engineering wing of the civic body has now reported that it was the fault of the agency that the work was stalled.
The civic body signed an agreement with accredited agency Nirmithi Kendra in 2008 for a cost of Rs 2.96 crore. The project included 120 houses in six blocks along with basic facilities for the community. In 2009, the corporation paid an advance of Rs 39.32 lakhs. In the first block, works upto lintel in the third floor were completed and in the second block, works of plinth beam were completed. The engineering wing had communicated that the structures done almost a decade ago would have to be certified for stability if works needed to be resumed.
While the project was initially slated to be completed at Rs 2 crore, the cost was revised to Rs 9 crore by 2014. The cost will further rise and the corporation has decided to levy the cost required for stability certification from the agency entrusted with the construction in 2008. It remains to be seen how much the cost will further rise.
Poonkulam was one of the 23 colonies included under Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP). The project aimed at integrated provision of basic services and amenities and provided for housing, roads, water supply, street lights, solid waste management and anganwadis. About Rs 1,20,000 was granted for construction of houses with two rooms, kitchen and toilet ranging 30 sq.m to 60 sq.m plinth area with 12% beneficiary contribution. Projects with a total estimate of Rs 208 crore were planned to be implemented in four phases.
While 23 colonies with brand new apartments were to be constructed across various wards as per the plan, by 2015 when the deadline ended, not even less than half of the target had been covered and rest will have to be abandoned.
The BSUP scheme could be implemented only in five colonies and that too partially, Rajaji Nagar, Karimadom, Kannammoola, Kalladimukham and Poonkulam till 2015. The welfare standing committee was even forced to make revisions. Out of 28 blocks at Karimadom Colony, 12 blocks were dropped. Seven blocks had been completed and the corporation had to seek permission to complete the ongoing work on nine blocks. Construction of colonies in 13 coastal wards had to be dropped. At Kannammoola, seven blocks out of 23 blocks had been completed in 2015 and no new construction could be initiated.
The city corporation faced a dilemma at Poonkulam since construction had reached a stage where the buildings lacked roofing.