Kochi civic body plans to secure nod for cost escalation of RAY project – ET RealEstate

KOCHI: Almost one year after their decision to increase the cost of the ground-plus-eleven-storeyed apartment complex being constructed at Thuruthi in Fort Kochi under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), the corporation authorities have started a move to secure the corporation council’s nod for the same.

The revised estimate has resulted in the escalation of cost of a 300sqft apartment unit to Rs 19.5 lakh, excluding the cost of land component, from Rs 7.40 lakh.

The corporation authorities have also started moves to ratify the act of mayor Soumini Jain giving back the security deposit of Rs 91 lakh to the contractor at the council meeting. As per the norms, the anticipatory approvals given should be ratified by the council when it meets next.

The act of the mayor is said to be in violation of norms as the security deposit is supposed to be given back to the contractor after completing the works and also after the expiry of the guarantee period as per the agreement.

But the mayor gave anticipatory approval for returning the amount to the contractor despite the fact that work on only one-and-a-half floors of the structure has been completed. Though TOI tried to contact Jain over phone, she was not available for comments.

The mayor is now in quarantine after she became the primary contact of a councillor who tested positive for coronavirus a few days ago. Going by her earlier comments, she gave anticipatory approval as per the advice of a committee led by the then superintending engineer of the corporation. The engineer had told that there are no legal issues in giving back the fund to the contractor.

Similarly, authorities are unable to clarify why the cost of an individual apartment unit shot up to Rs 19.5 lakh. According to the professionals in the real estate sector, the cost of a 300sqft apartment unit can be around Rs 7.5 lakh.

Even the finance standing committee of the corporation is of the opinion that the cost escalation should be examined in detail. “The standing committee has also asked the corporation to initiate a separate tender for carrying out the works using additional funds after fixing the rates properly,” one of the members of the committee said.

Opposition councillors had lodged a complaint with the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau alleging that there are anomalies in the mayor’s act of giving anticipatory approval for giving back the security deposit. A probe by performance audit wing of the state government into the case is pending.



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