Going by the Bihar government’s estimates, the reconstruction of 3 lakh-odd Kosi-devastated rural houses will be the most capital intensive.
In his financial assistance wish list presented to the Prime Minister in New Delhi on September 12, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sought Rs 4,500 crore for the reconstruction of 3 lakh houses (@Rs 1.5 lakh each).
At over 50 per cent of the Bihar government's reconstruction and rehabilitation demand of Rs 8,922 crore, the Rs 4,500-crore rural housing head is the biggest. Reconstruction work can start only after the floodwater recedes. Before that happens, there are issues to resolve. Finance being the most important.
“As per the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) norms, the permissible assistance is just Rs 25,000 per house. This is grossly inadequate. We are awaiting the Centre’s response,” said an official.
A realistic cost estimation is warranted, as the government's plan to rebuild 4,64,430 houses damaged in the 2007 floods failed to make any significant headway mainly due to cost escalation.
The reconstruction will require more money than the Centre is likely to offer. This will surely call for the intervention of financing bodies like Hudco and commercial banks, besides refinancing organisations like the National Housing Bank (NHB). But all this will be considered in seriousness only after the Centre responds to the state's government’s demand.
That wouldn't come a day too soon.