Karnataka government’s project gets poor response
Chief minister Siddaramaiah’s pet project of building one lakh houses for the urban poor in Bengaluru is struggling to make a start.
Reason: There are not enough takers for the houses.
But the state government is pushing hard to get the project moving before the dates to the state assembly elections are announced and the election code of conduct comes into play.
The ambitious housing project was first announced in the 2017 State Budget. Besides, the government also issued an order to implement the scheme on October 10. Although those at the helm are hopeful of starting the work before election dates are declared, there are not enough beneficiaries who have applied for the houses. The online application process, which has been made mandatory in the interest of transparency, could well be the culprit.
The Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation Ltd (RGRHCL), the nodal agency to implement the scheme, invited online applications in the first week of December. It set January 5 as the last date to submit applications. Poor response from the beneficiaries made the agency revise the deadline twice. The new deadline is set for January 31.
As on Tuesday, RGRHCL received only 26,619 applications, just a fourth of the total houses to be built.
Although there is a huge unmet demand, the response is poor, admitted Housing Board Principal Secretary Kapil Mohan. That is the reason for extending the deadline, he said, maintaining: “Tenders have been floated for the construction of houses and we hope to start the construction by third week of February.”
The Principal Secretary said that it would take at least 10-12 months to complete the structures once the work begins. The RGRHCL floated a tender on January 12 to construct 1,936 houses in two packages. The last date to participate in the bidding is February
12. Slum Janandolana state convener A Narasimha Murthy, who has helped residents of many informal settlements to apply for the scheme, said that lack of awareness and the complicated online process were preventing beneficiaries from applying.
“Most of the slum-dwellers in Bengaluru do not possess the documents that are mandatory to apply online. Due to this, it is mostly the middle-class people who are trying to get the benefit. They are applying online for this housing project,” he said.