The cash-strapped Maharashtra government is ready to spend at least ₹100 crore to provide temporary accommodation for over 300 legislators in Mumbai while it rebuilds Manora MLA Hostel at Nariman Point.
The cost of the new hostel is estimated to be about ₹500 crore.
Not just that, for the duration that Manora is under construction, the government will pay legislators up to ₹1 lakh per month as compensation.
The new Manora will have two towers and 800 flats. It will take approximately four to five years to build.
The state government is planning to sign an agreement with National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd, a central public sector enterprise, as project management consultant.
“Our endeavour is to construct iconic towers for the legislators. The design will be finalised according to the floor space index (FSI) allotted. The demolition of the existing towers will be done by using latest techniques,” said Atul Prabhu of Shashi Prabhu and Associates, the architectural firm appointed for the project.
Additionally, the state government has decided to offer ₹50,000 a month for each flat allotted to a legislator to pay for their alternate accommodation while the new hostel is being built. Most legislators occupy two flats in Manora, which means they will get a compensation of ₹1 lakh a month.
The cost to the government is estimated to be ₹25 crore per year and about Rs 100 crore to Rs 125 crore altogether since it will take four to five years to rebuild Manora.
“Why are legislators living in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar or Pune being given compensation when they can reach their constituencies within hours? Why cannot they bear for a few years until the new MLA hostel is constructed and restrain from such compensation? Many citizens in the city do not even get monthly salary of Rs 25,000 per month. It is the tax payers’ money being misutilised by the law makers,” said James John, coordinator of the non-governmental organization, Action for Good Governance & Networking in India (Agni).
However, the first obstacle to the state’s plans is the legislators’ refusal to leave Manora. Only 40 of the 336 flats in four towers have been vacated so far, despite two notices being issued by the public works department (PWD) which owns the hostel.
“We had decided to disconnect water and power supply from February 1, but in the absence of the alternative accommodation in the run up to budget session took place in Mumbai in March-April, we had to go lenient on vacating the flats. Some of the legislators have refused to vacate unless the money was paid to them for the alternative accommodation,” said an official from the PWD.
PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said “strongly-worded notices” will be sent to the legislators after the monsoon session. “We want to pull down the towers in August and begin the work immediately,” he said.
To facilitate their participation in the legislature and constituency-related work, free accommodation in Mumbai is provided to members of the legislative assembly (MLAs). The 288 MLAs and 78 members of the legislative council can stay at government hostels at Backbay (called Akashwani), Nariman Point (Manora) and Colaba (Majestic). Manora, which has 336 flats in four towers, is being demolished because it is dilapidated and will be replaced with two multi-storeyed towers with 800 flats of 400 and 600 square feet. The new Manora will accommodate 320 legislators, each of whom will be entitled to two flats
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