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Rajaji Nagar redevelopment to be scrapped? 

B 61.42-cr project has been facing inordinate delays and Smart City T’puram Ltd has informed chief secy of  their decision to shelve it.

Published: 24th August 2021 07:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2021 07:04 AM   |  A+A-

Rajaji Nagar Colony in  Thiruvananthapuram  popularly known as Chengalchoola | file pic

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rs 61.42 crore project has been facing inordinate delays and Smart City T’puram Ltd has informed chief secy of  their decision to shelve it.Government and corporation not ready to give up and last-minute efforts are on to reach consensus with beneficiaries.The CM has convened a meeting with stakeholders on September 4 to reach a resolution

The redevelopment project of Rajaji Nagar -- a densely populated slum settlement sprawling over 12 acres in the heart of the city -- under the Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (SCTL) was launched by then local self-Government minister A C Moideen in a trumpeted manner last year. However, the `61.42cr project has failed to take off even after nearly a year because of non-cooperation and lack of political intervention to reach a consensus with the beneficiaries.

Rajaji Nagar hosts around 1,100 households and around 2,000 families. The redevelopment project aims at revamping the densely populated settlement. The master plan of the SCTL proposes the implementation of the redevelopment project in three phases addressing all prevailing issues. As part of Phase I, SCTL was planning to construct 249 housing units in 2.81 acres and 189 families residing in the identified land for the project are being rehabilitated.

A senior official associated with the project said the SCTL is seriously thinking of shelving the project because of indefinite delays. The official said they have officially communicated it with the chief secretary but the political leadership is not ready to give up on the project. Though the SCTL has announced financial aid for the beneficiaries for paying rents, the families have refused to relocate and are demanding temporary rehabilitation in the same locality until the project gets completed.

“The contractor is unable to kickstart the project even after so many months and the time to complete the project is almost over. In the last Smart City board meeting, we raised this issue and talked about dropping the project. Like government projects, we cannot indefinitely wait for things to fall in place so that the project can be implemented. The time frame for the completion of the project was one year and it’s over. The prices of construction materials have gone up and the contractor would demand more funds which we cannot allot. We will have to go for a retender,” said an official.

The SCTL has standing instruction from the Centre to use allotted funds for practical projects which can be executed immediately with less resistance. “As a totality, we need a broader consensus at Rajaji Nagar to make the project a reality. We cannot offer more rents for the beneficiaries. We have offered `5,000 for each family. We cannot entertain any dispute while implementing the project,” the official added. 

However, the state government and corporation are not ready to give up on the project and last-minute efforts are on to reach a consensus with the beneficiaries. With the project still hanging fire, the chief minister has convened a meeting with the stakeholders on September 4 to reach a resolution. Thampanoor ward councillor C Harikumar said they have identified multiple locations for rehabilitating the beneficiaries. 

“There are 198 families and we need land to temporarily relocate these families Then only, the implementation can start. The land identified by us is under the custody of government agencies. We hope this issue would be resolved in the chief minister’s meeting. The government’s policy is to give homes to the homeless and everybody would be rehabilitated. There are definitely going to be objections even if we approach positively. We will overcome the challenges and go ahead with the project at any cost,” said Harikumar. 

He said only less than 40 families are ready to relocate. The pandemic outbreak has also adversely impacted the project as the entire focus of the system was on containment activities.The corporation has decided to step up and start a dialogue with the beneficiaries to make the project a reality. Works standing committee chairman  D R Anil said Rajaji Nagar is one of the underdeveloped areas in the city which lacks basic amenities including a drainage. In every heavy rain, the area gets flooded with filth because of the overflowing Amayizhanchan canal which is clogged with garbage.

“It’s one of the most vulnerable areas as there is no basic infrastructure. There is no proper drain network and the population is susceptible to communicable diseases. Politics should not come into play as the project is crucial for everyone. The rent amount offered is too little and it’s impossible to find a house for rent at such rates in the city. If the demand rises, we will use our own fund for relocating the beneficiaries. The civic body would do everything possible to implement the project,” Anil added.

CURRENT ISSUES 
Flooding
Lack of proper sewerage
Lack of 24X7 water supply
Lack of well-built housing facility
Insufficient public toilet facility
Highlights of the re-devpt project
Eight 3-storey apartment complexes to accommodate around 248 families 
Eight livelihood centres
One community hall
Green open spaces for recreation
Access roads with proper streetlights and stormwater drain system
Sufficient parking area
Solution for flooding 
Bio bin and dry waste segregation hub
Sewage pipe connectivity
Solar panels



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