Upendra Samal of Kanhepur village, Cuttack District, has been living on a plot of land for the past 40 years, he says. The plot of land does not technically belong to him but to the government.
But what is an individual to do when they have a family to feed? So it was that Upendra became a squatter and started working and living on this land to earn a living for his family.
This is not a one off case, the Government of Odisha estimates that there are over 2 lakh families in India with absolutely no land to their name, nor shelter over their heads. To tackle this situation, Naveen Pattnaik's government launched the Vasundhara Scheme under which each landless family was to be given 10 decimals (approximately 400 sq. mts) of land to sustain themselves.
As many schemes tend to go in India, this one too has had its share of problems in implementation and has been widely criticised. In its three years, the scheme has managed to provide only a fraction of families land. Many of those who have been lucky enough to get land allotment have been given land that is either already occupied or is uninhabitable.
"There was one case I heard of where the family was given land which was actually a sewage drain," says Community Correspondent Ashok Samal.
In Kanhepur village alone there are at least 3 other families who suffer the same fate as Upendra. Each of them have gone to the Block office as well as the Revenue Inspector's office to get their legitimate plots of land. Their efforts have met no success.
Call to Action: Please call Mr. Jyoti Prakash Dash, Sub-Collector, Cuttack, on 09937169310 and ask him to ensure that the families get the land that has been promised to them by their government.
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