THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition UDF staged a walkout in the Assembly on Wednesday to protest the 'inordinate delay' in processing the applications for construction of houses for the homeless under the Life Mission and the virtual stagnation of construction activities related to the project.
A heated argument ensued between the government and Opposition over the number of houses built for the homeless by the Oommen Chandy government. While the government said only 3,724 houses were constructed by the previous UDF dispensation, the Opposition accused the government of misleading the House. The UDF claimed 4.34 lakh houses were built by the Oommen Chandy government between 2011 and 2016. Ironically both sides quoted documents tabled in the Assembly to prove their point.
PK Basheer of the Indian Union Muslim League, who gave notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, said the LDF government has undermined the concept of decentralisation by taking over housing projects implemented by local self-governments. He claimed that the LDF government could complete only 2.5 lakh houses during its tenure despite the tall claim of constructing one lakh houses every year.
Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan accused the government of delaying the scrutiny of applications by beneficiaries by almost 17 months. "The Local Self Government Minister has admitted that the process will end only in February next year. This means there will be no construction under the Life Mission for many months," he said.
Satheesan said though the UDF government constructed over 4.3 lakh houses during its tenure, it never went to town with it like the LDF. However, the LDF, which has completed only 2.5 lakh houses, was making tall claims, he added. He dared the government to prove its claim that the UDF government had built only 3,724 houses.
LSG Minister MV Govindan said the deadline of submitting applications for houses under the Life Mission was extended in September 2020 following requests from all quarters including from the Opposition. Due to the civic body election by the end of 2020 and the assembly election the next year, the process was further delayed. He underscored the LDF government's resolve to complete one lakh houses by the end of the current fiscal.
"The Life Mission is the LDF government's flagship project and it will continue with vigour. All the stated objectives will be fulfilled and houses will be provided to all sections of applicants irrespective of political affiliations," the minister said.