The rural poor, awaiting the construction of houses by the Government, can henceforth construct houses on their own farmlands and the authorities will pay for them utilising the funds under the housing schemes of the State or the Union Government.

The State Cabinet, which met here on Thursday, approved a proposal of the Department of Housing to permit the rural poor to construct their houses owing to paucity of Government land in the tier-two cities and other smaller towns and villages. The farmers can construct their houses on land measuring not more than 1,200 sq ft and based on their eligibility they will be provided with grants and loans.

Briefing presspersons on the decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting, Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya said the programmes to provide houses to the homeless would be speeded up. The suggestion to permit the rural poor to construct houses on their own land had come from the local bodies and the people's representatives. Given the Cabinet decision, there is no need for the farmers to get their land converted prior to construction as envisaged under the Revenue Act.

Medical college

The Cabinet also approved the grant of 25 acres of government land in the Kengeri hobli of Bangalore South taluk to the Mata Amritanandamayi Trust which had sought land to start a medical college and an attached teaching hospital. The trust has assured the Government that nearly 40 per cent of the medical seats available for admission at the college would be made over to the Government pool for admissions through the Common Entrance Test.

Dr. Acharya said the Cabinet ratified the constitution of an eco-tourism board under the chairmanship of the Minister for Forests. The board would promote a range of tourism projects across the State with private participation apart from enlisting the cooperation of the local people.

The Government decided on constituting the board to prevent people making a beeline to thick forests in the Western Ghats and instead visit eco-tourism centres in the other regions of the State.

In accordance with the approval granted in the State budget for construction of college buildings and classrooms as sought by the Department of Higher Education, the Cabinet approved Rs. 115 crore apart from the provision of Rs. 100 crore in the budget.

The Cabinet empowered the KPCL to float tenders for finalising the power tariff for 80 MW of solar power plants based on a pattern prescribed by the Union Government. The power tariff is Rs. 14.50 per unit for photo voltaic cells solar plant and Rs. 11.35 a unit for solar-thermal units (running a turbine with thermal energy using solar power) and units quoting less than the prescribed rates will be shortlisted for approval.