Irregularities unearthed in army housing project

 Just over a week after Defence Minister A K Antony ordered an internal probe into the alleged misdeeds by the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) across the country, several irregularities in a project at Yelahanka have come to the fore.

The AWHO has charged them an extra Rs 20 lakh for each house, allege the owners. Also, the quality of the houses are inferior to what had been promised.

The project has 43 villas, purchased by retired and serving army personnel. The land for this project was purchased in 1998 at Rs 45 per sft.

A house here was initially priced at Rs 15.5 lakh, which was subsequently raised to Rs 32 lakh, and finally revised to Rs 52 lakh, just before completion of the project in late 2009.

“The prevailing cost of construction in the area is around  Rs 1,500 per sq ft, and the cost of a house at that rate, thereby, should not be more than Rs 32 lakh, including the cost of the land and amenities,” reads a complaint lodged with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Sources say that though the house owners asked AWHO for a break-up of costs, it was denied to them. The organisation is not entertaining any query regarding this now.  According to documents obtained by Deccan Herald, occupants, including families of several serving officers, had complained as early as 2011, a few months after they were given possession of the property, that the quality of construction was absolutely shoddy.

Representations about the shortcomings of the project have been made to the Managing Director of AWHO and also Lt Gen J P Nehra, the adjutant general (AG), under whose purview the organisation functions.

“The AG even conducted a person inspection of the project,” said an army source.
Some of the major shortcomings at the project include the inferior quality of woodwork, ineffective anti-termite treatment and bad quality of road work. “No satisfactory anti-termite treatment was carried out during the construction. Termites have appeared all across the project, and eaten into doors and other woodwork,” reads a complaint lodged with the MoD.

Sources said that the contract provides for anti-termite treatment for the entire area, but because no such treatment was carried out, the insects have eaten into doors and windows of many houses, forcing occupants to replace them even before completion of work at the site.

“The contractor has given a warranty, but it is clear that it is fake. Thereby, he must be taken to task,” said a person with knowledge of the matter, adding that the treatment work done after the complaints is also not completely satisfactory.

Further, the complaint pointed out that the sewer lines do not measure up to the required gradient, resulting in stagnation of sewage in the system. However, sources said that after protests over one of the lines clogging, repair work has been undertaken.

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