Aasare to miss deadline again

Aasare to miss deadline again

Much-delayed construction of houses for the flood-hit now hampered by power cuts

File photo of an aged woman sitting shattered in the debris of her flood-ravaged home in Talmari, Raichur district.

The reason given for the delay this time around is different: frequent power cuts. Construction of houses in about 300 newly carved out villages across 14 districts of north Karnataka, has been hampered due to interruption in power supply.

Erratic power supply by the electricity supply companies has forced the district administration to start using diesel generators as an alternative. But the generators are far from sufficient as the construction sites require high-voltage power, mainly for production of bricks and curing. As a result, the layout formation and the house construction works are progressing at a very slow pace.

“We have started using generators as a backup. We do not want the house construction work to suffer due to power cuts. The government has given approval to use diesel generators,” Gulbarga Deputy Commissioner R Vishal said. The government recently released Rs 26 lakh towards use of generators for Aasare scheme for Gulbarga.

With the onset of summer, frequent power cuts are a regular feature, especially in rural areas. The State government claims to be providing three-phase and single-phase power for six hours each in rural areas. In reality, people get only six to eight hours of power, mostly single phase. The problem aggravates in summer months, official sources said.

The government has approved use of generators to facilitate construction work, but  generators are not available for hiring in many places, official sources said. Renting out generators in summer season is a lucrative business, and there is a huge demand for them in the nearest towns.

Aasare houses are being constructed in Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bellary, Bidar, Bijapur, Davangere, Dharwad, Gadag, Gulbarga, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur, Uttara Kannada and Yadgir districts. Of the target of 59,477 houses, the government has been able to construct only 11,000 so far, just 18.49% in the aftermath of the October 2009 floods.

The scheme, which was started to provide permanent and safe shelters to those who were affected by the unprecedented floods, has already missed the deadline thrice. The Government had first confidently announced that it would complete the scheme and hand over houses to the beneficiaries in six months -- by May 2010. But it could not even complete land acquisition, let alone house construction.

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa then promised to deliver houses by September 2010 -- the second deadline. The scheme had not moved an inch. Again came another deadline, the third one, to complete the scheme by February 2011, which was also missed. Now, the chief minister has said all 59,477 houses will be ready for occupation by April.