| Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Jyoti Basu at the inauguration of Balaka Abasan. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, Jan. 16: With the need for better dwelling units sharpening in the suburbs and rural Bengal, the government is drawing up plans for low-cost housing, targeting the economically backward sections.
“The purchasing power of people in the rural areas has increased considerably. We now see people in villages buying motorcycles for transport. So, we are exploring ways to construct houses for them at minimum cost,” said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He was inaugurating a cluster of 928 flats — Balaka Abasan — for the economically backwards at New Town, Rajarhat.
Emphasising the need to provide low-cost housing to them, the chief minister said he has asked the architect of the Balaka complex and an expert in designing low-cost houses, R.L. Muni Chakraborty, to draw up further plans.
The West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) constructed the Abasan at a cost of Rs 18.21 crore with assistance from five joint sector companies — Bengal Peerless, Bengal Ambuja, Bengal Shrachi, Bengal IFB and Bengal DCL.
The cost of the flats range from Rs 95,000 to Rs 1.81 lakh. The apartments were built in a little less than two years. The state government had provided Rs 3.53 crore for the project.
HIDCO’s managing director, Debashis Sen, said the flats were meant for those with a monthly income of less than Rs 5,500.
Housing minister Gautam Deb said another cluster of 800 flats for the economically weaker sections will be constructed in New Town.
The housing complexes in New Town were being built in a way to bring 65 to 70 per cent of them “within the reach of the middle class”, Deb added.
“We have formed 32 co-operatives where we have included the youths whose families lost land to make way for New Town. We are imparting at least 18 types of training to them so that they can be self-employed or assist in running establishments when the township develops,” the housing minister said.
Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant, who attended the function, lauded the government’s efforts and stressed that the maintenance of the housings were most important.