Luxury flats of Tamil Nadu housing board go to babus for a song

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Someoneforyou, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

    Jan 26, 2011
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    Luxury flats of TN housing board go to babus for a song
    India - 30 april 2011

    CHENNAI: As one major housing scam just dies down in Tamil Nadu, another controversy has surfaced — this time involving a scheme for IAS and IPS officers. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) has proposed to sell about 1,000 flats in Nerkundram, about a km from the Koyambedu market in Chennai, to several IAS and IPS officers at concessional rates.

    While it can be argued that government employees are eligible for housing board flats at cost price, the apparent discrepancies and discrimination in the scheme have evoked criticism among activists. Officers are being offered high-end flats at prices cheaper than those for low income group (LIG) flats. In December last, TOI had reported how TNHB had allotted plots to judges, legislators and bureaucrats close to the powers that be under the government discretionary quota.

    The latest controversy relates to 'Own Your Housing Scheme at Nerkundram', proposed under Section 41 of the TNHB Act 1961 to build 1,016 flats in a 17-acre piece of land, estimated to be worth Rs 445 crore. They include 608 flats for All India Service (AIS) members, including IAS and IPS officers, 120 flats for Group I officers and 288 LIG flats for other government servants for which lots would be drawn on Saturday, according to a letter sent out by TNHB's executive engineer. The housing complex will include luxury amenities like a gym, a swimming pool and a club.

    According to documents assessed by TOI, there is a discrepancy in the rates of the various categories of flats. While the flats (1A and 1B type, measuring 2,460 sqft and 1,925 sqft respectively) to be allotted for IAS and IPS officers cost Rs 2,442 per sqft, the flats (1C type) for group 1 officers cost Rs 2,894 per sqft and 2C flats for the same group cost Rs 2,892 per sqft.

    However, LIG-D type flats cost Rs 2,690 per sqft, about Rs 250 per sqft more than the flats meant for IAS and IPS officers.

    The primary objective of the state-run TNHB, which manages large tracts of land, is to offer affordable plots or flats for those who do not own one.

    About a year ago, TNHB sold flats in Nolambur, Mogappair and Sholinganallur in the city's suburbs at a rate of Rs 3,800 to Rs 4,000 per sqft in the low income group category. Critics, including some TNHB officials and RTI activists, point out this obvious disparity in rates and say that if the rates were compared to the market cost, the loss to the board would be around Rs 300 crore.

    Retired civil servant M G Devasahayam admitted, "The government is justified in giving housing — flats or plots — to its staff at cost price with reasonable margins." However, he pointed out "there cannot be discrimination among government staff". Tamil Nadu IAS Officers' Association president and state agriculture secretary P Rama Mohana Rao said, "It's a government policy to make available flats at affordable costs. But I am not aware of this scheme." When the scheme was first announced in the assembly in the state budget in 2009, the complex was to come up on government land to be purchased by the board at guideline/market value. However, the scheme is now being rolled out on a TNHB plot.

    Interestingly, a clarification in the form of a letter (dated April 15, 2011 and accessed from the TNHB's official website) by state chief secretary S Malathi addressed to TNHB chairman Ashok Dogra said, "This scheme is like any other TN housing board scheme, except that it is for a specific group namely all-India service officers. So the usual system being followed for allotment by TNHB for such schemes may be followed for this scheme also." When contacted, both Dogra and TNHB secretary Sudalaimuthu declined to comment.

    Source: The Times of India
  3. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 23, 2009
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    You sell flats in a megapolis for R.3800 to R.4000 per square foot!?! How can they even justify a sales price like this?

    Surely, IAS officers in this country are not so poverty-stricken enough to do that! To get an even better deal than the 'low-income group'.

    Christ! Even a one room kholi in Mumbai or Delhi doesn't cost that much!

    I can understand the scheme being rolled out on a Tamil Nadu Housing board plot. I can even understand discriminatory pricing between AISB designation levels, as long as it fits within income structures of those groups and retains a sense of commensurateness, without discriminating within groups. What I can't understand is the disparity in rates between IAS officers and low-income consumers. Ain't the TNHB constituted specifically to redistribute land and property among the landless?

    This factor cost mentality as a means of donating benefits to government officials has to change. A loss of 300 crore to the exchequer is unacceptable!

    And it's pathetic that the TNHB has to earn its revenues from sales to the low income group, when they could have directed these generous subsidies from the not-so-poor IAS officials to them. Of course, their vote only counts at election time!

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