No land acquired in the last 25 years due to long-winding cases, says official

The agency responsible for creating affordable housing in the State is paralysed. Blame it on land acquisition.

In the last 25 years, Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) has not acquired any land, said chief engineer P. Joseph Rajarathnam while speaking at the ‘Affordable Housing for All’ conference on Friday.

Stressing on the need to change the existing land-acquisition policy, he said the process had turned into an extremely tedious one.

“Most land owners approach the court to seek higher compensation and thus, land acquisition cases get embroiled in legal tangles for years,” he said.

At present, there are about 3,000 land acquisition cases, pending from the municipal level to the Supreme Court, he said.

Land owners have to contribute certain portions of land for the housing needs of economically weaker sections; the rest of the land can be sold in the open market, directly or through private developers, Mr. Rajarathnam said. “This method will solve several problems; for instance, the land owners will get the right value for their land. So, development will be well planned and the government will get free land for developing houses for the poor,” he said.

Mr. Rajarathnam described how painstakingly difficult it was to execute the satellite township near Thirumazhisai. Although the government proposed to obtain 1,200 acres of land, a mere 311 acres have been taken over ‘on paper’ so far, he said. About 12 acres of land is yet to be acquired from property owners who are in the process of cultivating paddy there.

And the implementation of such projects goes through several agencies including housing, finance and revenue, he said. “Despite all, we strive to achieve affordable housing in Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Rajarathnam said.

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