Bhubaneswar : In a historic move in the welfare of slum dwellers the Odisha Government has handed over land titles to urban slum dwellers. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik handed over land rights certificates to the first beneficiaries as part of one of the world’s largest slum land titling project to improve the lives of the urban poor in the state by creating sustainable living conditions for them.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said; “Seven months ago we took a path-breaking decision on urban land-rights and I am proud to announce that it has already become a reality today. There was a choice between continuing the practices of evictions and treating people as encroachers or recognizing the immense contribution to the life of the city and providing them land rights. We choose the second option by keeping people first.”
Industrialist, educationist and philanthropist Ratan Tata lauded the decision of the Chief Minister as ‘earth shaking’ and ‘far-reaching’.
Historically viewed as encroachers and kept on the periphery of society, the government by granting them land entitlement in effect handed them a right to live. As a preamble to Odisha Government’s Livable Habitat Mission, this project will benefit approximately one million people residing in 2500 slums across the state, over the next few years.
In addition to the land titles, the beneficiary will also be provided with two lakh rupees part-funding to build their homes, along with basic needs like electricity, healthcare, education, sanitation, anganwadis, skill development and most importantly, self-respect and freedom from the perpetual fear of eviction.
Tata Trusts, along with all the other partners and NGOs, for their efforts in ensuring speedy implementation of this initiative.” Under the first phase of survey and validation of 3,000 households in an Urban Local Body (ULB) in Puri and seven ULBs of Ganjam district, land rights have been awarded to 2,000 households by the government. Under the second phase which is underway, Tata Trusts is providing technical support including drone surveys and slum mapping for around 100,000 households in 10 districts of the State.
Minister, Housing and Urban Development and Water Resources Niranjan Pujari, highlighted the efforts made by urban development department in enacting the legislation and starting the commencement of the distribution of land rights certificate by the committed timelines and assured to complete the entire process by December 2018.
To institutionalize this initiative he mentioned that setting up of Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission –JAAGA will go a long way in transforming slums into liveable habitats.