SARLAHI, Sept 30: The government had introduced the Public Residential Program (PRP) with the aim of providing shelter to the people of the poor and marginalized communities. However, the houses offered to the poor and homeless of Sarlahi district are reportedly made up of sub-standard materials as well as scrap.
The zinc sheets used for the roof at a village of Sarlahi are very thin and colorless. Dharichan Paswan of Basbariya Rural Municipality-2 laments that their houses have been built using low-grade construction materials.
"They somehow built our houses," said service seeker Paswan, adding, "But the zinc sheets were of poor quality while very less quantity of cement has been used for walls and other materials too are very weak."
Despite starting the construction of two-room houses for the homeless people in June 2017, the government is still unable to complete the construction. This has made it difficult for the service seekers to move into their new houses.
"They had once taken the photocopy of our citizenship. A year has passed but they have still not laid the roof," said Basmati Devi of Piparvitta Bazaar. She informed that the houses have started developing cracks as the mixture of 15 sacks of sand and one sack of cement was used for the construction.
The government had assured to hand over the houses to the people by building them for Rs 250,000 each. " We destroyed our old houses and started living in makeshift tents after being informed that we will be able to move in to our new homes anytime soon. But that has not been possible yet," Basmati said, adding, "We fear living in those houses which have already started developing cracks."
A committee comprising of three coordinators of the Dalit community including a female member and an official of the Urban Development and Building Construction Department Division (UDBCDD is responsible for the construction of the houses. However, the locals have the misconception that it is actually built by contractors. As accused by some locals, leaders of political parties have influenced the committee members of the Dalit community and are constructing the houses as per the contract system.
As per the locals, there is a separate committee comprising of few parliamentary members and government officials who are responsible for selecting the beneficiaries. Therefore, the construction committee is just a puppet as nothing happens without the will of the district level committee.
Ganga Yadav, chairperson of UDBCDD, Janakpur claimed that last fiscal year a total of 1,000 families were listed as beneficiaries in Sarlahi and most of them have already been handed over the houses while few are yet to get the houses.
"We have handed over most of the houses but some are still under construction," said Yadav. When asked by Republica about the use of sub-standard construction materials, he said, "Well, I have no idea about it. If it's so then the beneficiaries can file complaint so that we can start investigation."