5 years on, housing scheme for Thane-hit Cuddalore still incomplete

Only 78,242 of the 80,000 units in total have been built

The implementation of a massive rural housing scheme, conceived at a cost of ₹1,000 crore in the wake of Cyclone Thane, is yet to be completed in rural parts of Cuddalore district, though five years have passed since the original deadline – December 2013.

Only 78,242 of the 80,000 houses to be built in villages of the district under the Thane Housing Scheme (THS) have been completed, according to officials in charge of the scheme.

The cyclone had devastated Cuddalore and parts of Villupuram district in December 2011.

A June 2012 report by the National Institute of Disaster Management, which falls under the ambit of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, stated that in Cuddalore alone, 73,300 huts were fully damaged, 1,96,385 were partially damaged and 96,205 tiled houses severely damaged. A number of reasons are being cited for the non-completion of the project. Besides death and migration of beneficiaries, the other factors being mentioned are disputes over identified sites and court cases. Officials say they hope to complete the implementation of the scheme by the middle of January 2019.

The scheme had been plagued by delays ever since it was conceived. It was during the address of the then Governor K. Rosaiah to the Assembly in January 2012 that an announcement regarding the construction of one lakh concrete houses in the two affected districts was made. It took seven months for the State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department to issue a government order fixing the unit cost of the houses at ₹1 lakh.

Under the scheme, the size of each house would be 200 sq. ft. It could come up either in situ (replacing the beneficiary’s existing dwelling place) or on land owned by the beneficiary elsewhere in the village panchayat concerned.

Two years to move in

A visit by this journalist to a few localities in Cuddalore and Panruti blocks on Monday revealed that, invariably, it was since 2015 that the beneficiaries had been occupying these houses. On an average, it has taken two years for beneficiaries to move to their new homes.

Pointing out that the prescribed size of each house under the THS was too small to accommodate a family of four or five, Jeevarathinam, a resident of Nathampattu village in Cuddalore block, said that in the event of the State government coming up with a similar scheme for the delta, the house size should be increased to 400 sq. ft. and the unit cost fixed at ₹2 lakh at the least.

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