Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Rental rehabilitation for slum dwellers

In a bid to check the mushrooming growth of slums in the state, the BJD government is planning to create rental housing blocks at an affordable monthly rent of up to Rs 2,000 for the poor.

The recently announced Scheme for Affordable Urban Housing in Odisha-2012 has enunciated that the government shall provide land to the urban local bodies (ULBs) for creation of such housing blocks.

The scheme said government will create two types of rental houses. Those for the economically weaker section (EWS) will be offered for maximum rent of Rs 1,250 per month. The houses for low income group (LIG) will be available at Rs 2,000 per month. The civic agencies concerned will revise the rent from time to time.

The civic bodies will deploy private developers to create such houses with infrastructure such as water supply, electricity, sewerage and solid waste management on land provided by the government at a concessional cost.

The government will allot the rental houses to the identified below poverty line ( BPL), EWS, LIG beneficiaries for a maximum period of one year. The government has kept benchmark of income up to Rs 7,500 per month as EWS and Rs 7,501 to Rs 15,000 as LIG. The civic bodies concerned will get 25 per cent of the rent collected to maintain the housing blocks.

Apart from rental blocks, the government aims to create 1 lakh affordable dwelling units in the cost range of Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh in 10 years for the poor. Odisha State Housing Board ( OSHB) will act as the state level nodal agency for implementation of the scheme, notified by the housing and urban development department recently.

To promote affordable housing, the government has decided to reserve 20 per cent of developed land earmarked for residential purposes in the city development plan for houses under EWS, LIG and lower middle income group (those having income from Rs 15001 to Rs 20,000 per month) categories. All private developers have to reserve 15 per cent units for EWS and LIG housing in plots exceeding 2000 sq meters.

The government will give 100 per cent stamp duty exemption to EWS and LIG houses and 50 per cent to LMIG houses. Besides, the ULBs will give concession in holding tax.

The government has floated three models for developing affordable houses.

Under model 1, all Odisha State Housing Board (OSHB) housing schemes shall earmark at least 60 per cent of the total built-up area for EWS, LIG, LMIG and MIG (middle income group having income from Rs 20001 to Rs 25,000) housing, 15 per cent for each category. In return, the board will get government land at concessional rate.

Under Model 2, any private developer intending to build EWS and LIG dwelling units beyond the mandatory provision of 15% of built-up area can participate under voluntary development plan on private land through competitive bidding. Builders of such projects have to reserve 60 per cent of the built-up area for EWS, LIG, LMIG and MIG housing. In exchange, they will be allowed to use the unreserved portion to commercial usage. There will be no height restriction on such constructions.

Under Model 3, government land will be identified for allotment to private developer for construction of EWS and LIG housing through competitive bidding. At least 75% of dwelling units of such projects shall be utilized for EWS and LIG housing. The developer shall be free to use the balance area in any manner subject to building regulations.

Government plans to roll out the scheme in six cities covered under Rajiv Awas Yojna of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Puri besides Jharsuguda, Jajpur, Kalinganagar, Angul, Balasore and Paradeep in the first phase.

The scheme has evoked mixed reaction from the builders. “It is overall a very good scheme. The stamp duty exemption on EWS housing will boost creation of such houses. Rental blocks will prevent growth of slums,” said DS Tripathy, Odisha head of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI). Real Estate Developers Association of Odisha president Pradipta Biswasray, however, said the policy should have more clarity. “It speaks about rental blocks. But details of how the programme will be implemented is not clear,” Biswasray said.

Lawyers boycott courts

Irrespective of the claims and counterclaims about the success of the State bandh on Monday, an unprecedented trend was observed on the day when the lawyers community across the State came out to support the Congress- sponsored bandh spontaneously.

Judicial activities throughout the State came to a grinding halt as lawyers of all bars, including that of the High Court Bar Association here stayed away from the court proceedings which forced the judges to call it a day soon without transacting any business. “Never in the past decade, had the lawyers showed such unanimity to throw their weight behind the cause of Congress party,” observed a senior advocate of the High Court here.

This was “unprecedented” and probably it could be a protest much against the State police for their highhandedness and prejudiced approach than against the Naveen Patnaik government, opined another lawyer.

Senior advocate of the High Court and Congress leader Narasimha Mishra pointed out that the lawyers and intelligentsia of the State have now understood that the State is no safer in the hands of the present BJD government headed by Naveen Patnaik. “This is the beginning of a countdown for BJD government,” Mishra told this correspondent adding that he had thanked the lawyers for their support to the bandh.  

The Pradesh Congress Committee had given the bandh call to protest against the “barbaric” attack of the policemen to party workers during the mammoth rally organised by the party in Bhubaneswar last week. According to reports reaching here, court activities across the State were paralysed on Monday as lawyers unexpectedly came out in support of the bandh.

In many places, it was seen that the lawyers were urging the judges not to attend the courts saying that they were protesting for a larger interest of the State.

Court activities hampered in Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela, Balasore, Bhubaneswar, Dhenkanal, Kendrapara and many other important cities of the State including that of Cuttack city here where lawyers of all the 14 bars stayed away from courts.

Similarly, the bandh on the day was total in Cuttack city as business establishments, banks and insurance offices, schools, colleges and Universities were closed while the government offices witnessed thin attendance.

The Congress activists picketed at Buxi Bazar, Mangalabag, Badambadi, Khapuria and College Square and disrupted the train and national highway traffic passing through the city.

Hundreds of Congress activists including OPCC general secretary Suresh Mohapatra, City Congress president Mohammed Moqim, State Mahila Congress chief Bijaylaxmi Sahu and Cuttack district president Prakash Behera were taken under preventive custody by the police.

While no major untoward incident was reported from any part of the city during the bandh, police said a minor commotion took place at Vikash Bhawan, the administrative building of the city civic body.