Jayesh Samant

The objective of the BSUP scheme was to provide shelter to the families living in the slums of Thane. Due to the controversial management of Thane Municipal Corporation, this scheme has become a nightmare. Thanekar is certainly not stupid enough not to understand exactly what the political office bearers in the role of erv judge were doing when all the chaotic affairs were going on. After spending crores on substandard work, inquiring into the matter from the municipal system itself is like making arrangements to cover up one’s own mistakes.

In the city of Thane, the housing scheme planned through BSUP (Basic Services for Urban Poor) scheme has never been till 3 pm. Mrinal Pendse, a learned BJP corporator from Naupada area, in a recent general body meeting, while exposing the confusion in the project, gave many examples of irregularities in the project being set up in the name of the poor.

Through this scheme, NMC was planning to build 12 thousand 550 houses in different parts of the city. It was assumed that Rs 568 crore would be spent for this. The plans for these projects were approved by the Central Government. In fact, NMC constructed 6343 houses in last 15 years. During the Congress-led government at the Center, crores of rupees were distributed for development projects in cities across the country. The then central government sanctioned projects worth thousands of crores of rupees for slum redevelopment to speed up infrastructure projects in cities as well as to build houses for the poor. Considering the possibility of large-scale disbursement of funds from the Center, Thane Municipal Corporation submitted projects worth Rs. 568.94 crore for the construction of 12550 houses under this scheme. For the construction of these houses, 50 per cent subsidy was to be given by the Central Government and 30 per cent by the State Government. It was decided to pay 11% share to the beneficiary and 9% share to Thane Municipal Corporation. This math is completely missed. The scheme expired in December 2015. Municipal Corporation has been able to build only 6343 houses in different parts of Thane city. A grant of Rs 142 crore was expected from the central government and Rs 85 crore from the state government for these houses. Municipal Corporation did not do this work on time. Therefore, only Rs 190 crore has been received from these two governments. In other words, NMC did not get the rightful fund of crores of rupees. There are many difficulties in setting up a project like slum redevelopment. Therefore, there are expected difficulties in completing a project within the given time frame. However, the Municipal Corporation has been spending much more on these projects than it was supposed to, and there are allegations that corruption has been created in these projects. If we look at the overall history of the engineers who have been working on this project till very recently, it is clear that irregularities and these engineers have become an equation. Given the confusion created by some of these engineers in the old-new Thane project set up by the Municipal Corporation during the intervening period in the Ghodbunder area, the question remains as to why the creamy projects are given to the engineers with the disputed land (228 r). It has already been seen that such engineers, officials and even politicians like them. Therefore, while ordering an inquiry into the projects under the BSUP scheme, it should not be forgotten that this project was squandered in the eyes of the political system.

The scam is like a mountain

NMC has been able to construct about 51% of the houses as compared to the approved project plan. The housing project was expected to cost Rs 315 crore. NMC has so far spent Rs 800 crore for this work, said corporator Pendse. The project was expected to cost only Rs 27 crore at 9 per cent from the municipal coffers. NMC has actually spent Rs 609.79 crore. In other words, NMC spent up to 76 per cent on these projects instead of 7 per cent. The case is not limited to the fact that the coffers of the corporation were raided due to the collusion of officers and contractors. While all this is happening, the question of what the people’s representatives, city MLAs, MPs were doing also arises. Businesses are now in the municipal circles to support these costs, citing delays in work, unavailability of land, rising prices, increased housing area in some places. However, given the Ready Reckoner rates over the last ten years, the question remains as to whether the expected cost per square foot of construction on the project and the actual cost could be calculated by senior officials in the engineering department and administration. Mayor Naresh Mhaske has recently ordered a full inquiry. However, there is no answer as to who will conduct the inquiry and whether the inquiry will take place in the inner circle of the corporation. As the mayor says, this project must be investigated. For this, the Municipal Corporation should report to the State Government in detail or the people’s representatives should send such a resolution. If this happens then there is no reason to hope that the veils of the real looters of BSUP projects will be torn.

The post In the city: Irregularities dry up the homes of the poor appeared first on Loksatta.

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