Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 05 March 2021 10.23 AM IST

There are lots of land here but not for them …


The 'Life Mission', which is being implemented by the state government by combining housing schemes for the poor and vulnerable, has already made significant strides. The number of homeless people in the state is still over one lakh, and the number of new applicants for a home is increasing every year in the face of nuclear families, and while the goal of not having a single homeless person in the State is lofty, it has to be said that it is impractical in the current situation as the demand keeps coming in

The reason to tell you now about the housing project is because of the special report we published recently. The report was related to the plight of 20,000 plantation workers in eight districts of the state, including the forest area. Poor plantation workers have been waiting for years for a piece of land and a roof over it, while millions of hectares of forest land have been enjoyed by private individuals and companies for years.

The plantation workers have not yet been included in any housing scheme. The authorities also came to know about the plight of the plantation workers who were recently excluded from all the housing schemes implemented by the local bodies. In 132 gram panchayats, including the plantation sector, there is no land available for housing for workers. In 33 of these panchayats, when the census got completed, the plight of about 20,000 plantation workers came to light.

The real depth of neglect elsewhere will be known when the census is completed. Those who have travelled through the forest area at least once will be convinced of the daily plight of the plantation workers. The plantation owners make life’s savings by making the roofs out of plastic or sacks and toiling hard with their families often.

The country has witnessed how miserable their lives are, even in the large plantations where the workers have been housed and during the landslides of Pettimudi and many other places before that. It should not be forgotten that the government has built habitable houses for a few families after the Pettimudi tragedy.

The only solution to the problem is to make special housing schemes for plantation workers or to make the necessary arrangements to include them in existing schemes.
Only a few acres would suffice. Those who own public property have to voluntarily give up a very small portion of their garden for this purpose. If they are not ready for it, the government should find a place with power. The inspection had found that Idukki has the highest number of families waiting for a housing project. Their number will be over sixteen thousand.

Thousands of families are waiting for a home not only in the garden area but also elsewhere. Those who own a piece of land are relieved to receive financial assistance to build a house. But the government is the only relief for families who do not own a single grain of soil. There are many hurdles to find a place for them and complete the housing. Middlemen and commission agents are important links in rural land transfers. It is no secret that only a fraction of the money allocated by the government for land goes to the property owner. Dearth of land in the country is not the problem. The problem is the variety of options available to acquire them for the housing project. Its success depends upon the sincerity shown by the local self-governing bodies.

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