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Mega housing project for poor on track in Andhra Pradesh: Housing secretaryVIJAYAWADA: The state government is negotiating with several vendors for supply of construction materials like cement and other items which can be used by the beneficiaries of its proposed housing project.

Ajay Jain, principal secretary (housing), told TOI the government is planning to facilitate the construction of 25 lakh houses for beneficiaries who are being given land for the purpose. “Chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy is scheduled to hand over the land pattas to the beneficiaries on July 8. It was supposed to be done on Ugadi day (March 25), but was postponed because of the nationwide lockdown,” Jain said.

July 8 is also the birthday of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Jagan’s father and former chief minister of united AP. “The chief minister has already negotiated with cement makers. They have agreed to sell cement to beneficiaries at Rs 225 for a 50kg bag against the market price of Rs 280,” Jain added.

The housing department is also negotiating with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, which owns and operates the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. “We expect to reach an agreement with RINL-VSP soon. Apart from cement and steel, we are also contracting for other products which can be used in the interiors of the houses. Sand will be supplied free of cost,” he said.

The government is allotting 1.1 cents of land (53.4 sq yards) in urban areas and 1.5 cents (72.5 sq yards) in rural areas to the beneficiaries. Of the 25 lakh houses, APTIDCO (Andhra Pradesh Township and Infrastructure Development Corp) was to build 2.5 individual homes, while the Centre had sanctioned 7.5 lakh units in 2019-20. The balance of 15 lakh units was proposed by the state government.

“The government has set a timeline of 4 years for the completion of the housing project, but we expect to complete it within the next three years,” Jain said, adding that the government is also working to provide essential services like water supply to the new housing colonies.

“Each house is estimated to cost Rs 2 lakh, of which a large part will be sponsored by the central government,” Jain said. “The government will use MGNREGA labour for the construction of roads to and in the proposed housing colonies. Land is being acquired in Rayalaseema for the project, while the government will allocate its own land in Seemandhra region.”

Responding to critics’ claims that the housing project will create vast slums in the state, because the parcel of land for each house is small, and the houses would be built close to each other, Jain said the project would comprise housing colonies which would have all modern amenities like roads, water and a robust power supply network.

“We are preparing the documents to approach Hudco and PTC to provide funding for the power supply system. We are completing the groundwork for the project so that work can begin after the pattas are handed in July. Hopefully, the Covid-19 threat would have ended by then,” Jain added.

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