Take relief, give up claim on land: Govt to squatters

The tin-sheds built for those who lost houses at Gokak, Belagavi district. DH Photo/ Pushkar V

Karnataka is asking thousands of families to forego the right on their place of residence as a prerequisite to receive flood relief. That is because their homes, which are now damaged, were built unauthorisedly. 

Providing these families aid by getting them to relinquish any claim on the land on which they had built their home appears to be a workaround the government has devised following pressure from various quarters that they should be considered on a par with families with authorised homes. 

So far, the government has identified over 12,000 unauthorised homes that were damaged in the recent floods. They are unauthorised because they came up on government land or river beds, lack requisite permits and so on. 

The government has announced Rs 5 lakh for homes with 75% and more damage (category A), Rs 1 lakh for homes with 25-75% damage (category B) and Rs 25,000 for homes that need minor repairs (category C). 

Only authorised homes are covered under National Disaster Response Funds norms, according to Revenue Secretary (disaster management) T K Anil Kumar. “Typically, in all flood situations, we have ignored them as they are squatters. It is the first time they are being covered,” he said.

The Revenue department, in a letter to deputy commissioners of 22 flood-hit districts, has said that those beneficiaries who constructed unauthorised homes claiming relief should submit an affidavit that they will neither stake claim on the land nor receive any further relief from the government if they choose to stay in the same place. The affidavit will also act as consent for future eviction drives. 

Kumar clarified that people who built unauthorised homes willing to shift to another place will get the full relief amount. Otherwise, they will get an ex-gratia of Rs 25,000-50,000.

In August 2019, Karnataka faced one of its worst natural calamities when flood ravaged  103 taluks across 22 districts killing over 80 people and displacing nearly
7 lakh persons. 

The government is doubling down efforts to provide new housing for those who have lost homes. Land is being identified where beneficiaries can build their new homes under various housing schemes for which the Housing department has given deputy commissioners Rs 1,000 crore.

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