THE tsunami anniversary this year will usher in a restructured rehabilitation package for new beneficiaries and those who were excluded in the previous phase. The Government of Tamil Nadu has added a new component to the Emergency Tsunami Reconstruction Project (ETRP), which was already being implemented in the tsunami-affected districts. It is called Vulnerability Reduction of Coastal Communities (VRCC). The World Bank-aided project is financed through a credit component of the International Development Association (IDA).
The ETRP-VRCC will cover all habitations that fall within 200 metres to 1,000 m of the high tide line (HTL). This is conceptually different from the earlier rehabilitation package, which covered habitations within 200-500 m of the HTL that were destroyed by the tsunami. In the first phase, the construction of permanent shelters was done by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) identified for the purpose on land provided by the government. The ETRP-VRCC will focus on thatched houses, mud-walled shelters, and houses on patta lands situated within 1,000 m from the coast and which are vulnerable to disasters. Unlike in the previous project, ownership of patta lands is the primary criterion.
The project envisages a plinth area of 325 square feet a unit and a construction cost of Rs.3 lakh a unit. The total estimated cost is Rs.66.81 crore. Unlike the previous ETRP, which had one design for all tsunami shelters, the ETRP-VRCC has conceived five designs. The beneficiaries can choose the design for their houses. As many as 2,227 houses will be constructed in Nagapattinam district. Of these, over 360 will be built between 200 m and 500 m of the HTL and over 1,867 houses from 500 m to 1,000 m of the HTL. The project will provide pucca houses for identified beneficiaries along seven coastal blocks in 22 village panchayats and in 31 tsunami-affected habitations.
While the previous package had a public-private partnership (PPP) model for construction of permanent shelters, Phase II will have a selected NGO as facilitator for the reconstruction. In other words, the NGO will function as a third-party facilitator and not within the parameters of the PPP model. The construction works will be awarded by the State Department of Rural Development through open tender.
For example, in Nagapattinam district, an NGO called Avvai has been identified as the facilitator. It will counsel the beneficiaries, aid them in the selection of house designs through consultation, and act as a bridge between them and the Department of Rural Development. Considering the relatively small beneficiary coverage and allegations of lack of coordination between NGOs in the first phase, the district administration will assume a pre-eminent role in the shelter construction in Phase II.
Naluvedapathy panchayat in Thalainayar block of Nagapattinam district will be covered first. The pilot project envisages 137 houses, and construction will commence once the World Bank gives its approval. The beneficiaries have been selected and endorsed through the gram sabhas of the 22 village panchayats.
The previous package witnessed the participation of over 55 NGOs in the construction of over 19,000 permanent shelters in the district.P.V. Srividya