BHUBANESWAR: At a time when the Government claims credit for providing pucca houses to over 21 lakh poor families of the State in the last five years, the rural housing scheme is yet to reach a large number of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers though they possess rights over forest land.As many as 2,74,583 forest dwellers, mostly tribals, have not been covered under the rural housing scheme despite having title over forest land under Forest Rights Act, 2006.
“There is a huge gap in the convergence of FRA and welfare schemes in the State. Of the 4,27,889 Individual Forest Rights (IFR) title holders, only 1.53 lakh or 35.83 pc households have been assisted under various rural housing schemes,” said a report of ST/SC Development department.The percentage of coverage is very minimal in districts like Balangir 18.32 pc, Deogarh 22.36 pc, Dhenkanal 28.99 pc, Jajpur 7.22 pc, Jharsuguda 20.04 pc, Mayurbhanj 9.27 pc, Nabarangpur 25.91 pc, Nayagarh 22.90 pc, Sambalpur 27.65 pc and Sundargarh 21.55 pc.
In absolute number, the 10 districts account for 2,30,357 (83.89 pc) beneficiaries who are still out of the ambit of the housing scheme.Expressing concern at the low coverage of poorest section of society, Chairperson of Odisha State Food Commission Ranglal Jamuda in a letter to the Government said, “As per the norms laid down by the government, these IFR title holders are to be accorded topmost priority in the matter of assistance under various rural housing schemes like Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana, Mo Kudia and Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana. But, the ground realities are really very discouraging.”
Asking the district collectors to bring this to the notice of Panchayati Raj Department, the nodal department for carrying out the mandate, Jamuda said urgent measures should be taken to provide housing assistance to these vulnerable households on a priority basis.
In its list of achievements, the State Government has claimed to have provided IFR titles over six lakh acres to 4,36,676 individuals under FRA out of 6,15,741 applicants.The State Government is reported to have converted 20 lakh kuccha houses into pucca ones in the last five years out of which 16.23 lakh houses are constructed from Central assistance provided under Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (PMAY).
The rest has been constructed under State government schemes and funds available from District Mineral Foundation.