More than 800 homes under People’s Housing Programme still incompleteAround 5,000 families in Rautahat have been affected by the delay. Officials say they lack funds to finish the homes.
Jhagaru Musahar of the Musahar settlement in Dumariya, Rautahat, had happily dismantled his thatched-roof house some 10 months ago after the government authorities assured him to make a concrete house under the People’s Housing Programme.
The house construction began and he was told it would be completed by mid-March. It’s been five months past the promised deadline, and his new home is nowhere near complete.
“We were assured that our new house would be completed by mid-March. But the roof of the house is yet to be built,” said Jhagaru.
He has fixed a tarpaulin sheet above his under-construction house, where he lives with his seven-member family.
The situation of 49 households in the Musahar settlement in Chandrapur Municipality is the same.
The impoverished Musahar people have been left in a lurch as the homes promised to them by the housing programme remain incomplete.
The construction of 850 houses began in Rautahat last fiscal year to provide homes to the extremely poor and the impoverished Dalit families in the district. Not a single house has been completed till date.
This delay has affected around 5,000 people, most of whom are now taking shelter under flimsy tents and huts.
Urban Development and Building Construction Office in Birgunj, a government authority responsible for carrying out the People’s Housing Programme, says that it could not complete the house construction owing to the lack of funds.
Birendra Sah, an engineer at the Urban Development and Building Construction Office in Birgunj admits that the poor people have been left high and dry as the houses could not be completed in time.
“The roofs in the houses could not be installed due to the lack of funds. Other works were completed by March. We sympathise with the hardships faced by the poor families but we can do nothing,” said Sah.
Province 2 government had issued Rs150 million for the People’s Housing Programme in the last fiscal year of 2020/21.
Sah said the budget was not enough to complete the houses.
“Our repeated requests to the government to release additional funds were not addressed in time,” said Sah.
The provincial government has recently issued a Rs180 million for the housing programme, but the Urban Development and Building Construction Office has not yet received go-ahead to mobilise the amount.
Sah said it would take three to four months for all 850 houses to complete.
The government has a plan to construct 1,973 houses in different places of Rautahat under the People’s Housing Programme.
According to the Urban Development and Building Construction Office, the provincial government provides Rs 336,000 to construct a two-room house under the People’s Housing Programme. But the office says it costs around Rs 373,000 to build one house.
As per the government regulation, the budget is released in three tranches by forming a consumers’ committee of beneficiaries.
The People’s Housing Programme was launched in the district five years ago to provide housing facilities to the poor and marginalised people. Each family would get a house with a kitchen, two rooms and a toilet under the programme. The beneficiaries are required to donate labour worth at least 10 percent of the total cost of the house.
But the house construction under the project has faced delays after delays due to funds shortage.
“The construction of the houses has been affected as the government does not issue the required funds in time. The poor people have been greatly affected. The government should be careful about the issue,” said Babulal Sah, the provincial assembly member and coordinator of the People’s Housing Programme.