Bhubaneswar: At a time when awards are pouring in, Bimala Maharana, the poster girl of Odisha government’s award winning ‘Jaga Mission’ has become a travesty as she herself continues to remain deprived of land rights.
As per reports, Bimala lives at Ishaneswar slum in Niladri Vihar area of Bhubaneswar. A look at her shack which she calls her home would immediately call state government’s bluff. She has been living there for 25 years but didn’t get anything nearly related to land rights, except for a token which mentions her ward number and shack number. Ironically, Bimala was mentioned as ‘Extremely Happy’ in a press release after Odisha won the coveted ‘World Habitat Awards.’
A rueing Bimala said, “I am living in a shanty with tin and polythene sheets. No government official has ever met me and I have not been assured of any land rights.”
Not only Bimala but there were many others in Ishaneswar slum who reportedly have not received any land rights.
In Chatrapur of Ganjam, CM Naveen Patnaik had inaugurated the Jaga Mission in a grand ceremony and reportedly distributed land rights to 2000 beneficiaries. One such beneficiary was Laxmi Charan Nayak of Gopalpur who despite attending the CM’s programme has been left dejected as he never got any land records.
Nayak said, “I sat in the CM’s programme all day without any food, but nobody gave me land papers. Later, when I approached the officials, they informed me that I have to deposit money in order to get land records.”
Sources said, not only Nayak, but there are 58 more beneficiaries from a total of 479 in Gopalpur slum alone who are yet to get land rights.
When asked about Jaga Mission, the Executive Engineer of Gopalpur NAC said, “Some beneficiaries didn’t get land rights because of their personal problems.”
Notably, Odisha government secured 3rd position in World Habitat Award for providing land rights to more than 50,000 landless people. However, Urban Development minister Pratap Jena claimed that Odisha is top in the world for providing land rights to slum dwellers.