The Telegraph
Saturday , February 18 , 2017

Homes not for landless

New Delhi, Feb. 17: A revamped central housing scheme promising shelter for all rural families by 2022 has no room for the landless.

Dalits, Adivasis and nomadic tribes who have no land will be forced live without dignity as the Centre has discontinued assistance to landless people for purchasing land under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), activists say. It has also dropped plans for a law to give plots to the landless.

The Pradhan Mantri Yojana, launched last year as a new version of the Indira Awas Yojana, offers Rs 1.2 lakh per house in the plains and Rs 1.3 lakh in hilly tracts and the north-eastern states - but only to those who have land. The Indira Yojana had a component of Rs 20,000 for purchase of a "house-site" by the landless but this has been discontinued, official sources said.

The UPA government had in 2012 initiated the process of bringing a law to ensure every landless family got at least a tenth of an acre to build a house. The Narendra Modi government has dumped the move and has left the problem of landlessness for states to handle, the sources said.

Ekta Parishad, an NGO that spearheaded a movement for plots to the landless in 2012, criticised the new approach as one that "excludes the most vulnerable".

"States are never serious about allotting land to the landless. The Centre should have brought a law because shelter is a basic right. Without shelter, people will be forced to live without dignity. Hope among the landless is now dying," said Anees, a Parishad spokesperson.

Anees cited the examples of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, saying the BJP governments have initiated steps to take away the land of tribals despite constitutional safeguards. Jharkhand has passed a law to enable conversion of traditional agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, opening the scope for use by private industry. Madhya Pradesh is bringing a law to allow non-tribals to own tribal land.

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