CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Housing Board is set to construct 570 apartments for All India Service officers, state government officers and judicial officers at Nerkundram, a decision that has left social activists wondering about the priorities of a government reeling under the economic impact of Covid-19.
As per the prospectus, each apartment, with a plinth area ranging from 1,531 sq ft to 1,877 sq ft, is estimated to cost between Rs 95lakh and Rs 1.16 crore excluding the registration fee. The massive housing project comprises five blocks, each with stilt + 19 floors near the existing TAISHA Complex at Nerkundram.
The development comes at a time when the Tamil Nadu government has said that Covid-19 had caused considerable economic disruption and placed the finances of all departments in disarray. During a recent pre-Union budget meeting, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, who holds the finance and housing department portfolio in the state, informed the Centre that while the early signs of economic revival are apparent, the finances of state governments will take more time to recover. But, the TNHB, which comes under the housing and urban development department, is going ahead with the project that will impose a huge immediate expenditure on the government, say activists.
TNHB managing director B Murugesh did not respond to repeated queries from TOI for a reaction on the plan.
Senthil Arumugam of Satta Panchayat Iyakkam charged that construction of flats for government officers appeared to be a plan to appease them during an election year. “There is no second opinion that government officials cannot be denied houses. But, several rural local bodies are facing severe financial constraints and are running from pillar to post to meet expenses such as purchasing bleaching powder for sanitation after the outbreak of Covid-19,” he said. Against this backdrop, devolving funds to local bodies must be the government’s priority, not building apartments for officials, he said.