Roof over everyone’s head

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In a landmark decision, Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory administration has decided to provide land to the landless people to enable to have a roof of their own over their heads and also provide them a chance to earn some livelihood. As per the administration’s decision, 1360 sq.ft (five marlas) of land will be provided to all the landless people under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY).  As per official sources, the rural development department has identified 1.83 lakh families who do not have their own houses. Out of these, plots have already been allotted to 2,711 landless families across Jammu and Kashmir and the administration is confident to complete the existing backlog by March 2024. The present allotment is restricted to only the left out cases out of permanent waiting list (PWL) 2018-19, which may later, at the time of launch of next phase of PMAY(G) scheme in 2024-25 be extended to the same categories of landless beneficiaries.

It may be recalled here that a few years back, Prime Minister decided that every poor person should have a roof over their head. The aim of the scheme is to ensure that there are no longer any homeless people in the country. Taking a cue from PM’s initiative, the UT administration too geared up in this regard and devised a strategy to ensure that landless people get land to construct homes and thus transform their lives. Jammu and Kashmir had no such provision but the UT administration, thankfully, made a provision and approved it in the administrative council to provide land to landless for construction of houses under the PMAY.

As rightly pointed out by the LG, Manoj Sinha, once the housing needs of the landless people are taken care of, these families will start thinking of earning a better livelihood and education for their children and thus will not miss the march on the path to development. The LG made it very clear that there is no discrimination on the basis of religion or region and land will be provided to all those who deserve it as per the law.

Under the J&K revenue laws, the concerned Deputy Commissioners are authorised to consider the allotment of land to 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 government near Dachigam park for agriculture purpose, where construction is not permitted. Besides, any other category of cases who are otherwise eligible for housing but do not have any land available for construction will also be considered. 

It may be recalled here that Ministry of Rural Development, GoI has on May 30, 2023, allocated an additional target of 1,99,550 houses to UT of J&K for the FY 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, the statement said. The UT administration, in order to complete the exercise expeditiously, organised block-level camps across J&K from 4th to 10th June, 2023, for obtaining the requisite documents of households enlisted in AwaasPlus PWL — 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. Official data revealed 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.

While it is a path breaking decision, the UT administration need to ensure that the deserving people get benefitted by the scheme. The district administrations are to be made more responsive and people friendly. The entire process should be transparent and there should be a special webpage officially listing the beneficiaries. It is a good scheme and will do wonders if the routine red-tap and corruption doesn’t plague it. 

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