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Duplex delay for reluctant legislators

- MLAs & MLCs refuse to vacate flats, bungalows remain a dream

Legislators’ reluctance to vacate their old flats in the state capital has dealt a double blow to the construction of swanky duplex bungalows for them.

The project cost has escalated by around 25 per cent owing to delay and the building construction department cancelled the bidding process last week.

Almost two years have passed since the state cabinet had approved the construction of 325 duplex bungalows in Beer Chand Patel Path area for an estimated Rs 307.73 crore.

However, most legislators did not vacate the existing flats even though they were offered a monthly house rent allowance of Rs 28,000.

“The department, through a letter dated November 22, had to cancel the bidding process for development of Vidhayak Awasan (duplex bungalows for MLAs/MLCs) because we could not start construction. Over the past year, we served numerous notices to the Legislative Assembly secretariat, asking the MLAs/MLCs to vacate the existing flats but very few have vacated till date,” said a senior department official.

The state legislature (comprising Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Mandal) has 243 MLAs in Vidhan Sabha and 75 MLCs in Vidhan Parishad. Sources said each legislator is allotted two flats under the present system. Flats allotted to around 200 legislators in the Beer Chand Patel Path area were to give way to swanky bungalows.

“Despite repeated attempts, only four to five legislators have vacated the flats till date. The state-level schedule rate committee in July this year revised the rates for construction material and labour charges among other things. The rate revision has pushed up project cost by around Rs 81 crore,” said the official.

Amrendra Pratap Singh, the deputy speaker of the Legislative Assembly, said many legislators are not open to the idea of making personal arrangement for accommodation and availing house rent allowance against it.

“There seems to be lack of foresight in planning of this project. The state government should have thought about proper alternative accommodation for the legislators before starting the bidding,” said Singh.

In spite of the cost escalation, the financial bid submitted by interested firms in late-2012 was based on earlier rates only. Consequently, the short-listed companies objected to the opening of the bid at old rates, which implied losses for them.

“So, a fresh bidding would be conducted based on the revised project cost. It would take two to four months for the final selection of the firm,” added the official.

The department has even approached the urban development and housing department to repair the higher income group (HIG) flats of Bihar State Housing Board at Kankerbagh so that legislators can move there till the swanky duplex bungalows come up.

“We have been informed that the housing board has submitted an estimate of around Rs 5 crore for renovation of the HIG flats. A final decision is yet to be taken,” said the official. Each of the proposed duplex bungalows would have a floor area of 3,500sqft and would be built on 69.85 acres spread across R-Block, Daroga Prasad Rai Path and Beer Chand Patel Path.

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