Memorandum submitted to Chief Secretary, Odisha demanding Land Patta to Slum-Dwellers in Bhubaneswar, capital City of Odisha
On 5.12.16, a Civil Society delegation submitted memorandum to Sri Aditya Prasad Padhi, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha demanding allotment of land/plot to Slum-dwellers residing under Jurisdiction of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and discussed with him about possible modalities to carry out this work, if the Govt. took it as policy decision. It was suggested to State Govt. (a) to undertake thorough exercise to identify the eligible slum-dwellers in different slums in Bhubaneswar and lease out atleast 900 sq. ft. of land to each family following the procedure which has been made while allotting land to IAS, IPS officers, Ministers, MLAs etc., (b) recover thousands of acres of land illegally acquired by influential persons, private bodies in the city, (c) undertake comprehensive land planning by dividing land into five categories and reserving land for slum-dwellers in different locations of Bhubaneswar, as per Odisha Govt. Land Settlement Rules, 1983, (d) enactment of new land recognizing the property right of Slum-dwellers in slums of urban areas following Central Govt. Model Act, 2011, (e) frame a comprehensive Slum Development Policy recognizing right to Slum-dwellers to access land in urban areas. The members of the delegation were Sri Pradip Pradhan, Pradip Pradhan, Social Activist and Advisor to Bhubaneswar Basti Unnayan Parishad, Sachikant Pradhan, Convener, Core Committee Group of Civil Society Member and Slum-dwellers, Pratap Kumar Sahu, President, Odisha Basti Sangharsh Samiti, Bhubaneswar, Ranjulata Mohapatra, Convener, Bhubaneswar Basti Unnayan Parishad, Sanyasi Behera, Institute of Social Work and Research, Jogendra Dakua, Chairman, Tapoban Lane Basti Unnayan Trust.
Background of the Demand for land by Slum-Dwellers
Since last few years, Bhubaneswar has witnessed migration of large number of poor people from rural areas in search of employment and settled in slums unauthorizedly for their living. The State Govt. as well as Municipal Corporation has made a lot of administrative arrangements in terms of providing basic amenities like drinking water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, road connectivity, voter ID Card, Ration card to them in order to ensure better standard of living.
As per Govt. record, there are 436 identified slum settlements in Bhubaneswar of which 320 ( 73% ) are unauthorized and 116 ( 27%) are authorized. The total slum population is 3,01,611 with 80,665 households , indicating an average household size of 4 members. The size of slums ranges from 0.045 hectares to 18.31 hectares. , the smallest being Radha Kristan Basti in Ward 45 and the largest being Khandagiri Basti in Ward 23. The number of households in the slums also vary, from as low as 13 HH in Rangamatia Basti in Ward 9 to as high as 1,414 in Tarini Nagar Salia Sahi in Ward 16. The Slums listed cover an area of 7.15 sq. km. which is 3.9% of the total municipal area ( 186 sq.km.).
The Slum-dwellers are seen staying in very wretched condition with very bad sanitary environment. They are staying in Jhumpudi , low lying area located along roadside, rail line side and managing their family in small hut with much pain, sorrow and grief. As they do not enjoy any right over the land, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and BDA displaced and destroyed these slums in the name of development or handing over the land to corporate house. It has become very common phenomena in Bhubaneswar.
As per Odisha Govt. Land Settlement Act, 1967 and its Rules, 1983, the State Government is required to divide land in five categories in urban areas making the land reserved for (a) Govt. offices and public purpose , (b) sale of land through auction, ( c) house for middle class, (d) poor people. (e) Small and Medium Scale Industry etc. But the state Govt. has not yet kept the land reserved for settlement of poor, slum dwellers in Bhubaneswar. That’s why, a number of unauthorized Slums have been developed through out Bhubaneswar.
On the other hand, following the due legal procedure of Government Grants Act, 1895 and Odisha Development Authority Act, 1981 , the General Administration Department, Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Odisha State Housing Board have allotted land to a number of categories of Institutions like private educational Institutions, Hotels, corporate house, business institutions, builders and Individuals like political leaders, MLAs, MPs, Ministers, IAS, IPS officers, Govt. employees and many others. Similarly Many rich, influential people, kith and kin of the politicians and bureaucrats have been allotted multiple plots under Discretionary quota and through filling of false affidavit by the then Minister for Housing and Urban Development, General Administration Department. Many educational Institutions like Loyola School, DAV School, KIMS have been allotted land free of premium or nominal rate. As per CAG report, Sri Achyut Samant, Founder KIIT has taken more than 100 acres of Govt. land in Patia and Chandaka area through fraudulent means.
As per Govt. record, not a single slum-dweller has been allotted land in Bhubaneswar till yet. Since years together, they have been demonstrating to get a piece of land in city for their permanent settlement by way of organizing dharana and rally in front of assembly and submitting memorandum to Chief Minister. On 5th October 2016, thousands of Slum-dwellers had organized massive rally and demonstration in front of State secretariat demanding land patta over the land they have been staying since more than 30 years. Around 2400 applications addressed to Chief Minister have been submitted to Chief Minister for allotment of piece of land in their favour.
In a state-level consultation on “Right of Slum-dwellers to access land in Bhubaneswar” held on 28.10.16, the representatives of different political parties, Slum-dwellers, Civil Society Groups and Social activists like Sri Panchanan Kanungo, former Minister, Govt. of Odisha, had echoed their voice in support of demand of Slum-Dwellers for allotment of land patta to them. The participants had expressed their concern over pitiable conditions of slum-dwellers and their wretched living standard in congested slums in an era of modern development. The meeting passed an unanimous resolution that like Ministers, MLAs and Officers, the slum people are entitled to get a piece of land for their livelihood. Allotment of land should be made following the same procedure adopted while allotting land to the individuals, business house etc.
It deserves to be mentioned that the State Govt. has planned to allot house to Slum-dwellers under Rajiv Awas Yojana renamed as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. But building under construction are found very congested with small rooms and not viable for living of a family. Many Slum-dwellers have expressed their concern and unwillingness to stay there.
Right to get land and shelter is the fundamental right of every citizen of the country. Denial to shelter is the violation of Human Rights of the Slum-Dwellers. Keeping it in view, the Central Government has issued a Model Act to provide for comprehensive property rights legislation for Slum Dwellers in the country in 2011 which has not been enacted in our state.
Date- 7 .12.16