Flood rehab efforts could hit 'land' hurdle

Officials acknowledge that government land was increasingly difficult to find. But they also maintain that it was within the means of the government to make all the required arrangements for the affected population. (DH Photo)

The Yediyurappa administration is staring at an acute shortage of land even as lakhs of families displaced by floods will require rehabilitation going forward.

While the chief minister has promised to rehome the shelterless and also shift some villages to other areas, the government's own housing schemes do not have enough land, according to official data. 

This will force authorities to either pool land or buy land to accommodate those displaced by one of worst floods in the state in recent times.

Some of Karnataka's flagship housing schemes are hit due to inadequate land. For instance, under the Ashraya scheme, the government has only 24% land available in rural areas to distribute sites to the landless. In contrast, more land is available in urban areas for housing schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), under which the government has 70% land against the requirement. 

During a review earlier this month, Yediyurappa directed deputy commissioners to identify 100 acres land in rural areas and 50 acres land in urban areas for housing projects. In the aftermath of the floods, Yediyurappa announced that DCs will be asked to identify sites to be given to the displaced, besides housing facilities.  

Officials acknowledge that government land was increasingly difficult to find. But they also maintain that it was within the means of the government to make all the required arrangements for the affected population. 

"Since government land is becoming increasingly difficult to find, deputy commissioners have been empowered to purchase land as and when required," Housing secretary Harsh Gupta told DH. "We have also maintained land banks."

Moreover, the government can also change land use. For instance, agricultural land can be converted for non-agricultural use. Although there are challenges in identifying land for housing and rehabilitation projects, there is a way out, Gupta added.

K Harish Kumar, deputy commissioner of Uttara Kannada, one of the 17 flood-hit districts, said land can be pooled. "There is land from various departments that can be used for such purposes," he said. "But providing individual sites is a challenge as many people seek sites instead of a house," he said.

Mukhyamantri/Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)

Required land - 8,265.19 acre 
Land available - 4,192.07 acre
Land identified recently - 1,625.99 acre
Available land - 5,818.06 acre

Ashraya scheme (Rural)

Land required to distribute sites - 32,998.1 acre
Land available - 4,558.64 acre
Land identified recently - 3,431.71 acre
Available land - 7,990 acre

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