AWHO to retrofit crumbling army flats with Rs 80 cr; concerns arise over 10-yr guarantee

Kochi: The Army Welfare Housing Association (AWHO) has come up with a plan to retrofit the Chanderkunj Army Towers at Silver Sand Island, Vyttila in Kerala’s Kochi at a cost of Rs 80 crore.
The AWHO submitted a report detailing its retrofitting plan to the Kerala High Court recently.
The restoration work is expected to be completed in 21 months. However, the AWHO is promising a guarantee of only 10 years for the apartments even after the works, raising concerns among a section of flat owners.

The decision to retrofit Towers B and C of the apartment complexes was taken after their severe structural distress came to light, leading to a legal battle. AWHO’s Kochi project director Lieutenant Colonel Sidharth Singhal submitted the plan on behalf of the AWHO managing director to the high court after the court sought a report on implementing the district collector’s order to evacuate the residents of the two towers and retrofit the buildings.
The AWHO in its report said it has engaged a project management consultant/technical service provider for technical services and supervision. A contract has been entered with the technical service provider for an amount of Rs 3,23,00,000.

AWHO informed the court that the entire expenses for the retrofitting works, consultant charges, rentals and other incidental expenses would be fully met by it. An amount of approximately Rs 70 crore to 80 crore is being expended by AWHO and no amount is being collected from the allottees/owners of the Chanderkunj apartments, the report states.
The organisation said it would pay the owners monthly rental for the dwelling units during the period of retrofitting. “The allottees/owners of apartments in towers B and C would be paid an amount of Rs 21,000 and Rs 23,000 respectively per month. The rental amount would be paid for the period the apartment remains unoccupied. In addition to the above rentals, allottees who are in self-occupation of their dwelling unit will be paid 15,000 each towards relocation charges for moving out and for moving back on completion of the restoration/retrofitting works,” according to the report.

The AWHO has taken steps to evict the occupants and has issued notice to the Resident Welfare Association on May 14, requesting the occupants of the building or dwelling units in the two towers to evict their respective dwelling units by June 30.
The organisation said it is in the process of finalising the contract for restoration or retrofitting works.
The restoration works are scheduled to commence on July 15 and are expected to complete by April 30.

Reoccupation of the apartments will begin by the allottees by May 2026. Structural stability, non-destructive test (NDT) and residual life assessment study will be conducted once the works are completed.
Visual inspection will be conducted after three years, five years, seven years and the 10th year by the supervising authority. Annual Inspections and repairs if and where required would be carried out continuously for a period of 10 years by the contractor.

Colonel (retd) Ciby George, who has been pursuing a legal fight against those who are responsible for the poor quality construction which has left many lives at risk, has, however, questioned the AWHO’s report.
“A technical team appointed by the collector had clearly recommended obtaining the opinion of expert agencies like IITs, NITs or government colleges on the possibility of retrofitting the buildings. However, AWHO is planning to do retrofitting based on a one-and-a-half-year-old study by them. This will only lead to disaster and it is not acceptable to the owners. There are many other impossibilities and impracticalities in the report. They are planning to spend about Rs 80 crore and get a warranty of about 10 years which means they themselves are not confident about their work,” Col George said.
He said instead of carrying out the immediate evacuation as ordered by the collector, AWHO is causing delay to escape their liabilities. “This development has increased the fear and anxiety among the owners especially since heavy rains have begun. I sincerely hope the authorities will ensure speedy action,” he said.

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