Land to the landless poor approved in J&K: LG Sinha

Jul 24, 2023 | Demographic Engineering

Arif Shafi Wani | Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Carrying forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolve to provide houses to downtrodden people, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday announced that the Jammu and Kashmir government has approved allotment of five marlas of land to each landless poor person under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (G) beneficiaries to build houses in the Union Territory. 

Addressing a news conference at Raj Bhawan here, the LG said, “It is a historic day for Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said that the PM Modi had several years ago decided to provide houses to every poor person in the country.

“In this regard, J&K government made progress, but there was a roadblock. There was no provision to provide land to landless families under the PMAY in J&K. Subsequently, after discussions with the Revenue and Rural Development Department, we decided in the Administrative Council that each landless families will have five marlas of land to construct houses,” Sinha said.  “We have allotted land to 2711 landless people in J&K so far. As per the PMAY we have to include eligible homeless beneficiaries in the scheme. We will saturate the waiting list.”

He said that the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India (GoI) had on May 30, 2023, allocated an additional target of 1,99,550 houses to J&K for 2023-24 for saturation of the Awaas+ list (PWL 2018-19).

“It has been desired by the ministry to sanction these houses by June 30, 2023 and ensure completion by March 31, 2024. As on date 1,44,385 houses have been registered and 1,41,371 houses have been sanctioned to eligible households enlisted in Awaas + PWL against the aforementioned target,” the LG said.

Elaborating, he said that 1 marla of land was enough to construct a house but the administration decided to allot 5 marlas.

“On four marlas, these beneficiaries can support their basic living,” Sinha said.

In a philosophical tone, he said that when a poor person gets roof over his or her head, he or she thinks about livelihood.

“A house for the poor creates dreams and aspirations. When a poor person gets a house to live in, it is not only doors and windows for him but means of life and development,” the LG said. “I have seen in my 30-35 years of social life that when a poor man gets a house, he thinks about generation of employment opportunities and providing education to his children.”

He said that in the past, there used to be talk of policies for upliftment of the poor in J&K but nothing happened on the ground.

“Now due to the online system and direct benefit transfer, we will ensure that every single penny reaches the poor. We have been successful in ensuring social quality and upliftment of the poor in the last over three years,” Sinha said. “I want to maintain that there is no difference between our Niti (policy) and Niyat (intentions). Our Niti is to help the downtrodden and our Niyat is also the same.”

He said that every decision was being taken while keeping the poor into consideration.

“The poor section of the society is at the centre of government policies. Substantial population that was devoid of basic facilities and rights even after seven decades of independence is being brought to the mainstream of development. Now instead of spreading hands, these poor people will participate in the development of J&K,” the LG said.

Turning poetic, he recited noted poet Nida Fazli’s couplet, “Naye Naye Aankhen Hoon to Har Manzar Acha Lagata Hai, Kuch Din Shaher Maein Gumay Lekin Aab Ghar Acha lagata Hai, Huma Nay Bhi So Kar Dekha Hai Nai Purana Shaheron Main, Jaisa Bhi Hai Apne Ghar Ka Bistar Bahut he Acha Lagata Hai. (If you have fresh eyes then every scene is pleasant. Roam around the city for a few days, but you feel at home only in your house. We have also seen sleeping in new and old cities but the bed of our house feels good as it is).”

On a query regarding the data about the land to beneficiaries in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, Sinha said, “I don’t see from this angle. No religion, no bar, only eligibility of landless is imperative for us.”

On the demolition drive against the encroachment of State land, he said, “At that time also I had maintained that the poor would not be touched. There were two aberrations and I am happy that those were resolved on the same day. We will provide government land to poor people under the law. Land will be provided to the landless at places where they are residing. We can’t provide land for the homeless of Anantnag in Samba.”

The LG said that providing land to the landless was a path-breaking decision, “This will entitle landless poor to own a piece of land and have a house. It will provide them means of livelihood, raise their living standards, and importantly let them realise their dreams and aspirations.”

He said that the J&K government was committed to inclusive development.

“This move will open up endless opportunities to the poor and downtrodden and with this landmark decision, the administration is acknowledging their immense contribution in the task of nation building,” Sinha said.

He said that this would prove to be a golden chapter in the administration’s effort for social justice, equality, respect, and equal opportunities to all citizens.

Chief Secretary A K Mehta and Commissioner Secretary, Rural Development Department (RDD) and Panchayati Raj Mandeep Kour flanked the LG.

Meanwhile, officials said that the present allotment was restricted to only the left out cases out of Permanent Waiting List (PWL) 2018-19.

They said this may later, at the time of launch of the next phase of PMAY (G) scheme in 2024-25 be extended to the same categories of landless beneficiaries, who otherwise become eligible for getting housing assistance under PMAY (G) Phase-III.

The officials said that following categories of Awaas+ beneficiaries would be considered by the Deputy Commissioner (DC) concerned for allotment of land under the J&K Revenue Laws: people residing on state land; people residing on forest land; people residing in Rakhs and farms land, where construction is not permitted; people sitting on custodian land; and land allotted to displaced people by the government near Dachigam Park for agriculture purpose, where construction is not permitted, or any other category of cases, who are otherwise eligible for housing but do not have any land available for construction.

Officials said that in order to complete the exercise expeditiously, block level camps were organised across J&K from June 4 to 10, 2023, for obtaining the requisite documents of households enlisted in Awaas+ PWL including bank details, Aadhaar card, MGNREGA job card, ration card, revenue documents, phone number, and a declaration that they have not constructed the house already and they are otherwise eligible under the guidelines of the scheme.

They said that these documents were needed to ensure registration and sanctioning of houses as per the assigned targets on AwaasSoft portal.

The officials said that as on date 1,44,385 houses have been registered and 1,41,371 houses have been sanctioned to eligible households enlisted in Awaas+ PWL against the aforementioned target.

They said that during the field verification of beneficiaries in the aforesaid period of block level camps, it had been reported by the field functionaries that 2711 households enlisted in Awaas+ PWL were landless.

The officials said that there were many more, who could not otherwise submit their documents due to various reasons like seasonal migration.

“If the Centre extends the timeline, this number is expected to go up by a couple of thousands. Else they will be considered in the next phase of the scheme,” an official said in a statement.

PMAY (G) guidelines of the Ministry of Rural Development provide for granting land of 25 sq mt (approximately 1 marla) to the landless beneficiaries for construction of PMAY house.

However, to ensure sufficient land availability with them to support their basic living, it has been decided to allot 5 marlas of land to certain categories of persons, who are part of Awaas+ PWL 2018-19 which include land less and those occupying state or forest or any other land where construction is not permitted.