Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sikkim rebuilds

In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, the State Government launched an ambitious project called Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses [REDRH] with the view to reconstruct rural houses damaged by the quake. The government resolved to reconstruct a total of 7,972 houses damaged during the earthquake with the unit cost of Rs 4.89 lakh per house with a total central allocation of Rs 391 crore over a period of three financial years 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. The project is fully funded under the Prime Minister’s Special Relief Package from the Planning Commission.
As of now, data from the Rural Management and Development Department reveals that of the 7,972 allotments, 3000 houses have been completed and handed over to the beneficiaries.
As per RMDD Special Secretary, Dr. Sandeep Tambe, the remaining 4,972 houses are in various stages of construction and the government is planning to handover 500-plus houses to beneficiaries on 18 September next week on the third anniversary of the 18/11 earthquake.
RMDD Secretary, DR Nepal, further informs that the aim is to hand over all 7,972 REDRH houses to beneficiaries by December 2014.
On complaints from the beneficiaries/ contractors of late supply of materials and funds, Mr. Nepal informs that the scheme is fully Centrally-sponsored and the State Government has to depend on the Centre for funds to be released. This can take time sometimes.
“We submitted the Utilization Certificate to the Central Government in the month of December 2013 but due to Parliamentary elections which came in between, the funds have not been released so far,” he said adding that the State Government has received assurance that the funds will be released any moment now.
As per the White Paper of the State Government on the high intensity earthquake of 18th September 2011 [released in December 2012], the Government has given the following reasons on why progress of REDRH scheme appears slow:
• Finalizing the technical house design took time: Consultation with experts and others
• Finalizing the strategy for stock material purchase and management which is transparent and fair. 23 lakh bags of cement and 2lakh quintals of TMT bars need to be not only purchased transparently, but also provided to 7,972 destinations as per requirement without pilferages
• Establishment of Block Level Stores for the first time
• Prioritizing 7,972 of the total12,548 beneficiaries following a transparent criteria in special gram sabhas
• Inadequate staff at Block level: Existing technical staff at the Block level (1 AE and 3 JEs) are already constructing 6,000 houses under Rural Housing Mission and implementing flagship programs like MGNREGA, IAY, NRDWP, TSC, BRGF, NSAP and various other state programmes
• Shortage of masons and labour: Already 6,000 houses under REDRH are under various stages of construction
• There is an acute shortage of masons and labour to build the houses.

The REDRH houses are of RCC frame with a slab roof and having a plinth area of 605 square feet. However, in few remote areas, option of GCI roofing has been provided. The total floor area of the house should not be less than 605 sq feet and RCC with 9 columns (1 feet x 1 feet) and RCC beams of (1feet x 1 feet). The walls should be half brick walling over RCC frame and flooring should be Cement Concrete with RCC Slab 4 inches thick roofing which include minimum one toilet along with septic tank.

Monitoring & Evaluation
Special Monitors: 29 senior officers from the Govt of Sikkim of the rank of Special Secretary have been assigned the task of monitoring each Block along with 29 supporting officers
District Level Monitoring: By District Level Committee headed by the District Collector.

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