Their demand for regularisation of houses remains unfulfilled

Caught between poverty and the law, some 60 families residing at the Narayana Guru Nagara Ashraya Colony in Maravoor panchayat limits face an uncertain future.

They are demanding that their houses be regularised contending that the land they have occupied no longer belongs to the original allottees of the colony either.

Narayana Guru Nagara is a hill on which the panchayat allotted over 100 housing sites under the Ashraya Scheme in the late 1990s. For more than a decade, more than half the sites had remained unoccupied. Over a period of time, poor people who had no other land began to build houses in the largely vacant colony.

The family of Joseph D'Souza and Lata live in a two-room tarpaulin house in the colony. For, they moved into a year ago as they could not afford Rs. 400 as rent. The house has a pukka toilet-cum-bathroom thanks to his wife's membership in a self-help group. Holding up a flapping sheet of tarpaulin that made up a “wall” of his house, Mr. D'Souza said he lived in an “open AC (air-conditioned) house”. Meanwhile, around a year ago, the original owners began demanding that their land be returned. According to some residents, this was because they anticipated commercial gain from the area's proximity to the Mangalore Special Economic Zone which surrounds the hill on three sides.

The illegal occupants maintain that the original allottees no longer have a right over the house sites because rules governing the Ashraya scheme mandate that the beneficiaries occupy the site within a year, Joint Commissioner of the Mangalore City Corporation Shrikant Rao told The Hindu.

Around 60 occupants had been demanding that their houses be regularised so that they get door numbers.

The gram panchayat says it does not have the powers to do so.

Panchayat president Narayan Bodhi said that the panchayat had passed a resolution to nullify the title deeds granted to those who had not occupied the sites allotted and sent it to the taluk panchayat for further action.

Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer K.N. Vijay Prakash said he would direct the Executive Officer of the Mangalore Taluk Panchayat to look into the issue. He said that the Vasati Samiti,could re-allot the sites.

More In: Mangaluru