Even after a year of its implementation, there has been little progress in the Centre-sponsored Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in Rourkela. This comes at a time when the State Government is all set to bring in a new legislation to rehabilitate unauthorised slum dwellers.
Sources feel given the contentious land issues plaguing the unauthorised slums in Rourkela municipal limits and the industrial township of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) neither the RAY nor the proposed Odisha Property Rights to Slum Dwellers and Prevention of New Slums Bill would be of much help to remove the slums. The RAY for a slum-free Rourkela is apparently lagging behind due to lack of clarity on the percentage of cost sharing by the State Government and beneficiaries and unavailability of adequate funds from the Centre.
Basti Surakhya Samiti president Biren Senapati accused the BJD-led municipal council for deliberately delaying the scheme.
Rourkela municipal vice-chairman, RN Mishra, said RAY would only be implemented in slums that are under the municipal limits. This means a sizeable population of over 1.25 lakh in the industrial township would be left out. According to information obtained under RTI, socio-economic survey of slum households and GIS mapping are underway for submission of Slum Free City Plan of Action (SFCPoA). Municipal executive officer B K Swain said beneficiary selection would be done later.
Rourkela Municipality accounts for over 1.30 lakh slum population spread over RSP, South Eastern Railway (SER) and State government lands. Another 1.25 lakh are residing in the industrial township located entirely on the RSP land.
Sources said neither the RSP nor the SER is keen to cede even an inch of land to ‘illegal occupants’. Rourkela unit BJD president AC Mohanty said they had unsuccessfully written five times to SAIL for slum development.Meanwhile, the Sundargarh administration also envisages a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for Greater Rourkela with facility to rehabilitate slum-dwellers.
Sources said it appears to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, but none has been able to address the real issue. They added that removing slums requires direct intervention of the State and Central governments, which seems unlikely at the moment.