“One cannot compare apple with oranges.”
This is how the Sri Lankan government’s Resettlement Ministry has reacted to criticism over the unit cost of houses to be built under the latest project in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) chief R. Sampanthan and Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran have both argued that at least two houses could be constructed under the given unit cost of over Rs.2 million.
In its detailed response, the Ministry stated that the unit cost of the latest project — Rs.2.18 million — had been arrived at after taking into account the cost of various components and without including taxes.
Each prefabricated house would have facilities like kitchen with pantry cupboard; a dining table and four chairs; a television set along with a stand; a laptop with Wi-Fi facility; a tube well and a 500-litre water tank. There are a total of 65,000 houses to be constructed.
Making a comparison with housing projects of other wings of the government, the Ministry said that the unit cost under the plantation housing programme was Rs.1.2 million and that under the Meeriabatta housing programme of the Sri Lanka Army was Rs.1.3 million.
It also said that when the Resettlement Ministry had carried out a housing project with an owner-driven model, the unit cost was Rs.8,00,000. However the cost element there did not cover the facilities that were being envisaged under the new project.
The Ministry said the temperature inside the proposed houses would be lower by 3-5 degree Celsius than the temperature outside. This was because of insulation technology to be adopted.
On the selection of Arcelor Mittal Construction France as the executing agency, the Ministry said eight companies had submitted documents for “request for proposals (RFP)”. Of these, only two — Arcelor Mittal and EPI-OCPL Consortium — were qualified. Of these two, only Arcelor Mittal had provided a detailed financial package. (The Hindu)