Now, a homestead for every poor family

After enacting the National Food Security Act and a new law to change the legal regime for land acquisition, the Congress-led central government is now set to come up with a new bill which seeks to provide every shelter-less poor family a homestead of not less than 10 cents.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said the Government was planning to introduce the National Right to Homestead Bill 2013 in the coming winter session of Parliament.

“We will introduce the bill if Parliament is allowed to function,” Ramesh said. He was speaking at a conference on women’s right to property in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A section within the Congress believes that the Homestead Bill, like the National Food Security Act and Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, may help blunt the anti-incumbency wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The bill seeks to ensure small holdings for every shelter-less poor family within a period of five years from the day the proposed legislation is notified after passage in Parliament.

The data available with the Government reveals that 31 per cent of the households across the country have no land, while almost 30 per cent own less than 0.4 hectares each.

The Ministry of Rural Development, which is drafting the new bill, is of the view that a homestead of 10 cents (about 4,350 sq ft) provided to a poor family should help it not only build a home, but also to take up supplementary livelihood activities such as backyard poultry, pig or goat rearing, horticulture and cultivation of vegetables.

The draft bill seeks to put the onus of identifying the beneficiaries on the state governments, which will also be required to make inventories of unused land available with them or, if needed, acquire more land within a year after the legislation is notified.

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