The State government’s ambitious Zero Landless Project in the district has been knocked off its feet with the number of prospective beneficiaries zooming past the land plots available for allotment by miles.
The government’s decision to postpone the launch of the project, which was initially planned on August 15, by distributing title deeds is unlikely to resolve the issue. The project aims to distribute three cents each to landless families in the State.
The Revenue Department officials in the district had identified 4,500 plots for distribution under the project. But it has now emerged that only 1,449 plots are legally fit for allocation under the project. Compare this against the eligible beneficiaries of 31,379 chosen from more than 43,200 applicants and the enormity of task will reveal itself.
Rest of the plots are snagged either in court cases or are on rocky terrain, making it unfit for allocation.
A senior revenue official said 1,449 plots will be allotted initially while the rest of the plots would be made available before the next phase of the project, which is supposed to run till 2015.
It was software configured by the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) that picked up the initial beneficiaries of the project, giving prominence to the destitute, terminally sick, disabled, widows, separated, and members of scheduled communities.
The Revenue Department had sent the data on the available land and its beneficiaries to the Land Revenue Commissionerate. The Commissionerate is likely to return it to the district administration with specific orders for issue of title deeds to the beneficiaries. The district administration will in turn forward it to the village officers.
The huge gulf between the number of beneficiaries and the plots available poses threat of displacement. While the State government insists that the beneficiaries will be allotted land within their village limits, revenue department officials admit that it will be hard task in the later phases of the project. As the available plots in a village get taken, people will be given land further away from their dwelling — probably in a another village or district. This would be tantamount to displacement of the chosen beneficiaries.
Social activist C.R. Neelakantan said such displacement will pose a big crisis. “What’s the point in giving a Thrissur-based beneficiary a plot in Kozhikode that will affect his work and relations,” he said. Mr. Neelakantan further tore into the project describing it as eyewash by the government in the face of intensifying struggles for land across the State. Those struggles were for sizeable land fit for agriculture and not for mere three cents, he said.