Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Parlakhemundi, Dec 10:
The Collector of Odisha’s Gajapati district Ms Mansi Nimbhal launched a scheme to expedite Land Allocation to the eligible landless families in the district through the use of mobile SMS technology in collaboration with Landesa- a global non-profit organisation on Wednesday.
It will equip the Bhumi Sanjojaks, local youth trained to identify landless families and assist in the land allocation programme, and revenue officials to gather and record information required for the Revenue administration and the project implementers in the field in real time.
With Landesa’s technology support, this new approach will help data collection, management, and processing land titles even on low-end mobile phones. Though there are persistent challenges with regard to availability of mobile network in the hilly terrains of the district, the district administration is taking initiatives to provide internet service in select GPs through V-Sat. which will address the problem to a certain extent.
Keeping in view the criticality of land ownership for the life and livelihood of the marginalised, Government of Odisha has initiated efforts to allocate land to poor landless people in the state. There are challenges galore and persistent problems in the tribal districts. Some of the major challenges are: tribals do not have title to the land that they occupy and about 41% households are landless; rampant illegal land transfer from tribal to non-tribal; tribals losing their land due to debt-induced land mortgage and concealed land leasing; 40% less staff in revenue department than the actual numbers sanctioned and vast coverage area.
To tide over these problems, OTELP initiated a land allocation program in 2011, in collaboration with Landesa- a global non-profit working on securing land rights. The programme aimed to ensure land to the landless in 1056 project villages across 30 blocks of Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur districts. The programme focused on formalising rights over land for the households possessing government land, both as homestead and for cultivation – as far as possible.
The mainstay of the programme has been the Community Resource Person (CRP) model developed by Landesa that uses CRPs – a cadre of specially trained local literate youth known as Bhumi -Sanjojaks – who work as the link between the poorest communities and the state government. Through a household survey, the Bhumi-Sanjojaks identify the landless families and help them to file land claims. The Bhumi Sanjojaks then assist the revenue officials in field verification, coordinate with the community for public hearing by the tehsildars in a camp court and help settle land claims in a timely manner.
The Government of Odisha has expanded the Land Allocation programme using CRPs to 18,000 villages in 118 TSP blocks as Comprehensive Programme on Land Rights to Tribals (2012-2017). With 1000 plus Bhumi-Sanjojaks working closely with the communities and the land administration, the programme is likely to secure land rights of 300,000 landless families in the next few years.