Land rights for slum dwellers
By T. S. Ranganna
BANGALORE, NOV. 30. The State Government is all set to launch a Rs. 274-crore project to give tenurial rights to slum dwellers in 21 class-one cities and develop infrastructure to provide housing to them.
Karnataka is the third State after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu to implement such a project.
The Housing Minister, Mr. Qamar-ul-Islam, told The Hindu today that the Governor, Ms. V. S. Rama Devi, had promulgated the Karnataka Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) and Certain Other Law Ordinance.
The Ordinance amended the Karnataka Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act of 1973, and the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1974 and came into force on November 17, he said.
With the amendment, the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board has powers to grant tenurial rights to slum dwellers after developing land. It enables the board to form layouts and gives it the powers to allot and transfer sites and houses to slum dwellers. It also empowers the board to initiate proceedings for removing encroachments on its property which it had not enjoyed earlier.
He said the Ordinance would go a long way in helping the board to get the project launched on New Year's Day by the Chief Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna. The Congress had promised in its election manifesto to grant tenurial rights to slum dwellers if the party came to power, he added.
The project, Mr. Islam said, envisaged improvement of the facilities in slums by providing roads, electricity, water, drainage and sanitation. Under the project, training would be imparted to slum dwellers to help them earn a livelihood.
The project, which would be implemented in four years in 1,453 slums, would benefit 2.77 lakh families in 21 cities (which have a population of one lakh each).
The cities are Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad, Mangalore, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Davangere, Bijapur, Bellary, Tumkur, Shimoga, Hospet, Udupi, Raichur, Kolar Gold Fields, Kolar, Bidar, Bhadravati, Hassan, Chitradurga, Gadag and Mandya.
Mr. M. R. Srinivasa Murthy, Secretary to Government, Department of Housing, said the board had the powers to take over land, evict encroachers, develop land, transfer it to an authorised occupant and recover the expenditure from him.
He said that an Amendment Bill had been listed for introduction in the last session and the Ordinance was promulgated to implement the project expeditiously.
Under the Ordinance, the board will have representatives from the Finance and Housing departments not below the rank of deputy secretary; the Director of Town Planning; an officer from the BMP not below the rank of deputy commissioner; an officer from the Department of Social Welfare not below the rank of joint director; the Regional Head of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation; and, five non-official nominated members.
A chairman will be appointed to the board, and the post of secretary redesignated as commissioner.
Mr. Islam said the board was seeking assistance from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation for implementing two major slum development projects at a cost of over Rs. 1,250 crore.
In keeping with the increased responsibilities, it was proposed to upgrade the board by providing for the appointment of senior functionaries such as secretaries to government as members.
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