RANCHI: The state urban development department formally kicked-off the ground work for the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious light house project, an affordable housing for urban poor under PM Awas Yojana in Ranchi’s Jagarnathpur area on Tuesday amid heavy security cover.

The project remained stalled since its foundation stone laying ceremony in January this year owing to heavy protests by locals, who under the banner of HEC Basti Bachchao Sangharsh Samiti blocked the works on many occasions in the last six months, fearing displacement.

However, after officials in the ministry of housing and urban affairs recently threatened state urban development department of stalling funds for PM housing projects (urban) recently, authorities swung into action.

Since morning, the Ranchi district administration pressed over 200 policemen, including magistrates, at the project site to facilitate uninterrupted recommencement of the ground work for the project. JVS Narayan Rao, director municipal administration in the state urban development department, along with her team too was present on the occasion.

She said, “We began soil testing from today and work on barricading the site to bar unauthorised entry is being set up. We have started work on this project now and if all goes well, we shall be able to finish it in stipulated timeframe.”

“Originally, the project was set to be completed within 12 months after the foundation stone-laying ceremony. However, protests coupled with Covid-19 pandemic delayed it at least by six months now,” said sources.

Under this project, 1,008 flats are to be constructed at the 7.5-acre earmarked land for economically weaker section of society whose annual income is up to Rs 3 lakh per year. The total cost of the project is around Rs 133 crore. Once ready, flats will be given to identified beneficiaries, said officials. Centre will invest Rs 5 lakh from its coffers for each flat, while state government will provide Rs 1 lakh. Beneficiaries will have to bear the remaining Rs 6.5 lakh on their own.

Meanwhile, a delegation of HEC Basti Bachchao Sangharsh Samity on Monday met with Poriyahat MLA Pradeep Yadav seeking his help to stall the project at the identified site. Mintu Paswan, convenor of the outfit, said that they aren’t against the project but are fighting to save the only available open ground in their area. Talking to TOI yesterday, he said that high rise will rob children in the area proper playground and many also fear mass displacement.

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