BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Centre is ready to provide housing assistance to all the Forest Rights Act (FRA) beneficiaries, the Government machinery seems not prepared to execute the massive rural housing programme under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).
The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has already sanctioned an additional financial assistance of ` 362.52 crore for 99,986 IAY houses for FRA beneficiaries in 28 districts and released ` 181.12 crore as the first instalment. Although district-wise allotment of houses has been made and beneficiaries to be covered under the housing scheme are selected, reports from the districts said that the verification of land titles and identification of the land allotted to the beneficiaries are taking a long time. In some cases, homestead land allotted to the beneficiaries does not figure in the Government land records while in others the allotted plot is already under occupation by other people. The additional allocation of IAY houses has put the district administration in a fix. While most of the districts are running behind schedule in completion of houses allotted in the last financial year, sources familiar with IAY said it would take more than five years for the Government to complete the housing programme for the FRA beneficiaries. As per the latest report, the State Government has distributed land titles to 2,98,878 FRA beneficiaries including 860 titles for community purposes by April-end. Only 17,263 beneficiaries are covered under the scheme. With an additional allocation of one lakh houses, another 1.82 lakh FRA beneficiaries will be covered under next phases. During his recent visit to the State, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said that all the FRA beneficiaries would be covered under IAY. Will the State Government be able to handle construction of such a large number of houses with the existing field-level staff, wondered a senior Government officer. Faced with shortage of bricks for construction of houses, Collectors of several districts have reportedly sought Government approval for taking up brick- making under NREGS, the rural job scheme. Besides, supply of other construction materials required huge manpower.