Alongside a clear instruction that "no one must die of starvation", all the Block Land Reforms Officers (BLROs) have been instructed to distribute free land to every landless 'below the poverty line' (BPL) families in the Maoist-affected districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore as soon as possible.
Top priority is to be given to identify and reward those landless BPL families, which now reside within the worst-infested areas under the jurisdiction of 13 police stations in these three districts. Each landless family would be provided 10 cottahs (half a bigha) suitable near the present place of residence, so that enough could be earned from the plot to sustain the family throughout the year, says principal secretary, Land & Land Reforms department, PK Agarwal.
While each BLRO concerned has been directed to draw up a complete list of all the landless BPL families in the respective areas, sufficient land for distribution would have to be arranged by them out of the stock of 'government vested land', or by making fresh purchases, he added.
Admitting that land cultivation, live-stock breeding, fish farming and horticulture instead of doles and unskilled jobs can provide an enduring socio-economic and poverty-alleviation solution to the unlettered SC and ST population inhabiting the areas, Agarwal claimed that adequate funds would be placed at the hands of the three district administration for achieving the targets.
Agarwal said his department is already through with the data about 'vested land' available that can be readily distributed in the targeted areas. For example, while 308.61 acres of 'vested land' are presently in possession of the government in the Baghmundi and 67.19 acres in Bandwan blocks in Purulia district, this may not be enough for meeting the full requirement. The shortfall can be met by acquiring land at the prevailing market rates, and the notice for such purchases has already been issued for public knowledge, he said.
Yet another solution could be allocation of land to the landless BPL families a bit away from their present homes, as the amount of 'vested land' available now in this district totals 1454.65 acres. This land can readily be given away to 8724 families (one acre for six families).
While Bankura district authorities are yet to distribute 1315.84 acres 'vested land', violence-torn areas like Ranibandh has 95.03 acres and Sarenga blocks (98.58 acres). West Midnapore is also well-placed with 9934.85 acres of 'vested land' awaiting free distribution, while Maoist-strongholds like Salboni block has 358.19 acres, Jhargram (1458 acres), Gopiballavpur-1 (417.52 acres), Gopiballavpur-2 (598.72 acres), Binpur-1 (376.88 acres) and Binpur-2 (288.44 acres).