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A year after, tsunami shelters still not complete
December 25, 2005 15:23 IST
Almost a year after the tsunami swept away homes of about 40,000 people in the worst-hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the waves of indecision have made it sure that the roofs don't return over their heads for a long time to come.
A row between the government and Non Government Organisations has stalled the project for construction of about 8,500 houses in the Islands.
While the NGOs working in the reconstruction blame the government for not invloving them in the housing project, government says the construction work could not begin because the voluntary bodies wanted the design and technology of their own liking, claiming to understand the life style of the islanders better.
These bodies want the houses to be built, should be in tune with the original habitat of the people living in the Islands while the CPWD maintains that the tribal people too have a right to benefit from new technology and get stronger and more comfortable houses.
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Armed with a Rs 500-crore budget, Caritas India wanted to build 18,000 homes in the tsunami-hit states, but it now says except in Kerala these homes may not be ready even in the second anniversary.
''We have not been invloved in the planning for building houses in Andaman and Nicobar, though we have sufficient funds,'' said a senior functionary of the NGO.
According to sources in the CPWD, which has been assigned the work of giving technical support to the construction work, the project could have been finalised much earlier but for the resistance shown by some voluntary organisations.
The tussle has left the project in limbo for the last one year.
Finally the government has now decided that the design and technical aspect will be taken care of by the government agencies while NGOs will be allowed to only fund the construction.
However, even after this decision, the process of consultations is not over yet.
''Moreover, in February-March there is going to be monsoon, which will further delay the project,'' said the official.
Under the project, about 8,500 houses of 450 square feet area are to be worked on in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In Tamil Nadu, bigger NGOs like Caritas rue the "inordinate delay" in inking a Memorandum of Understanding for constructing homes for the victims. "Not only the delay, but in many cases the government did not have land to construct the houses and in some cases the land was not usable," says the Caritas official.
The NGO, which plans to build about 10,000 houses in the state alone, is yet to get allotment of land for 3,000 homes, he said. The NGOs have almost completed construction of homes in Kerala.
Caritas has so far built 900 houses and plans to add 300 more in two months. Rehabilitation experts say it would take more time to rebuild the homes of the tsunami victims unlike in Gujarat where the reconstruction after the earthquake was completed in two years.
A senior CPWD official said they want to construct strong, quake resistant and lasting houses in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
A steel structure is being proposed for these houses, which is being vehemently opposed by NGOs on the ground that it was in discord with the tribal lifestyle, he said.