Sikkim invests Rs.390 crore on quake-resilient housing project

Gangtok, Dec 29 : Sikkim has launched a Rs.390 crore project to build earthquake-resilient houses to minimise the loss of life and property in case of natural calamities.

A devastating earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit northeastern India Sep 18, 2011, killing over 100 people, 70 of them in Sikkim. Sikkim is among the country's worst earthquake-prone states. Earthquake-resilient houses would substantially lower the loss of life and property if temblors recur.

The Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses project is being funded under the prime minister's special relief package announced after the devastating 2011 earthquake in the state.

According to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, Rs.227 crore of the Rs.389.83 crore outlay for the project has been utilised so far. Under the project, 7,972 houses that were badly damaged during the quake due to porous land in the region will be reconstructed and made earthquake-resilient.

"So far, 1,500 earthquake-resistant houses have been constructed under the project, with the remaining in an advanced stage of construction and slated for completion in 2014," Chamling said in a statement here.

The project is being implemented by the Sikkim government's Rural Management and Development Department on the "Build Back Better" philosophy to construct low-cost modern houses compatible with the local climate and terrain, he added.

Under the project, each house costs Rs.6 lakh, of which the grant component is Rs.4.89 lakh provided in four installments at different levels of development. The first instalment is paid when the beneficiaries are identified and subsequent payments are made on the completion of the plinth and the roof and finally when the house is ready. Each beneficiary provides the remaining Rs.1.11 lakh.

"Various innovative steps have been taken to reduce the cost of construction under which each house will be constructed with roller-compacted concrete (RCC) frame with a slab roof and a plinth area of 605 square feet," the statement said.

However, in a few remote areas, there is the option of corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) roofing.

The project seeks to change construction practices permanently, recognising that construction of earthquake-resistant housing will only become the norm if the right technology is locally available, widely known, culturally accepted and competitively priced.

The houses are constructed in partnership with the home-owners. The core house design, building standards, construction material (cement and steel), technical supervision and co-financing capital were provided by the project managers.

The home-owners undertook the actual construction, procured construction material (stone, sand, timber and the like), arranged for masons and labour and also added their share of Rs.1.11 lakh.

--IANS (Posted on 29-12-2013)

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