Lawmakers in Bihar are homeless and struggling to find even rented accommodation in Patna.
A Rs 300 crore state government project to construct more than 300 duplex bungalows for state legislators was sanctioned in 2012 but work hasn’t started four years later. Of these, 243 were for members of legislative assembly and 75 for members of legislative council but tenders failed twice, driving up construction costs.
Convener of the assembly house committee, Ramanuj Prasad, admitted that almost half of the state’s legislators were still homeless. “We somehow managed to provide accommodations to 129 MLAs. The rest are being paid about Rs 28,500 monthly as house rent,” he said.
But many legislators are unable to rent houses as owners don’t want to give their premises to a politician.
“Getting a house on rent is a real difficult issue. I got one only after hiding my real identity,” said Congress MLA Amit Kumar Tunna.
The crisis became worse after the last assembly elections as the building construction department (BCD) got all the old quarters vacated and demolished.
The absence of government accommodation led some newly elected MLAs of the ruling grand alliance JD(U) to grab houses illegally. This prompted deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad, who also holds the charge of the BCD, to issue a stern warning.
The 3,500-square feet bungalows are set to come up on 69.85 acre plots located near R-Block, Darogarai Path and Beer Chand Patel Path — considered prime localities of the state capital .
But officials say the BCD – that has revised the cost of the project to Rs 450 crore, is grappling with a crisis of reliable construction companies. “There was some litigation. Some of the allottees, including members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and judicial officers, refused to vacate the quarters in the beginning. The contractors wanted free land to start work,” a BCD officer said.
Engineer-in-chief of the BCD, RP Chaudhary, said the project was awarded a firm owned by a Janata Dal (United) MLA, at the cost of Rs 120 crore. “We are preparing replies to a few technical queries raised by the chief minister before finalising the tender for allotting work to the MLAs’ complex,” he added.
Assembly speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary said it was a serious issue and he had approached CM Nitish Kumar to resolve it at the earliest. “I am concerned. There are some technical issues and that are being sorted out,” he added.
Former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi attacked the government for its apathy on the issue.
“This demonstrates the state government’s lack of commitment. How should the people expect this dispensation to live up to their expectations when the government is failing to ensure even the basic amenities to its leaders,” he asked.