Written by Tharushan Fernando
25 Mar, 2016 | 7:50 pm
A government-led initiative to build 65,000 houses for the displaced in the North and East has run into controversy. Allegations are being made that construction of these houses are marred with irregularities.
On December 22, cabinet granted approval for the 65 ,000 housing project for internally displaced people of the North and East under the Ministry of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs. Accordingly, a house under this project will cost Rs.2.1 million. The pilot project houses of this initiative were vested with the public by President Maithripala Sirisena recently.
Earlier this month the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran pointed out that even these houses are not suitable for the people and they do not match the climate, culture and lifestyle, and are also expensive.
During the parliamentary session on Thursday Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that the project was marred with discrepancies.
He noted that although open tenders were called for this project , it has been reported that the selection process was done in secret and with no transparency, resulting is a massive fraud.
He further raised questions on the procedure followed to initiate the 65,000 housing project and noted that there are no institutes that builds a house for Rs.2.1 million with government funds
The JVP leader further pointed out that an Indian-built house goes for Rs.550,000 and the house constructed with European funds cost 650,000 rupees and questioned how the price of the houses in this project has risen from an estimated Rs.1.2 million rupees to Rs. 2.1 million.
In respons , Minister of Rehabilitation – Resettlement, D.M Swaminathan pointed out that though 15 contractors were selected for the project following the tender process, the company with leading experience and financial stability was chosen for the project.
The minister noted that thereby the project was handed over to French giant ArcelorMittal and explained the rise of the price of the house stating that initially the basic construction cost, only the shell was 1.396 million. However the total cost including toilets, tube well, solar panel, electrical wiring, fitted pantry, inclusive of a gas cooker, wi-fi and other facilities which come to two million ten thousand and five hundred
MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake charged that if the project is launched, the government will have to bear an additional burden of Rs.65,000 million.
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