Buddha’s land distribution scheme turns into flop show
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* Only 711.856 acres purchased though Rs 62.25 crore released from exchequer
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's grandiose programme of distributing land among the poor in the villages, launched on January 30, 2006, had been a total failure.
A query under RTI by The Indian Express has found that only 711.856 acres could be purchased by the government for distribution even though a whopping Rs 62.25 crore had been released from the state exchequer over the last five years. Altogether, 4,842 people have benefited from the scheme. Government officials question where the rest of the money has gone.
The scheme, called 'Chas-o-Basobaser Janya Bhumidan Prakalpa' aimed at providing land to the landless poor in rural areas to farm and set up a home was mooted by Bhattacharjee during his first tenure as chief minister ¿ he became the CM in 1999 ¿ to keep rural vote intact. In January 2006, a few months before the elections, a government notification was issued for purchase of land measuring 5 to 10 acres from "willing sellers" at every block of the state.
Single crop land was priced at Rs 80,000 per acre, double crop land Rs 1 lakh per acre and multi-crop land Rs 1. 20 lakh. A three-member committee headed by the Land Reforms Commissioner (LRC) was set up to scrutinise all applications for sale. Even officials of the Land Reforms Department raise questions on how the amount was spent.
"Unless the department utilises the money and furnishes the certificate, the finance department will not release the next installment of money," an official said. "Now even if you spend Rs 1.20 lakh per acre, for 700 acres you end up spending about Rs 8 crore. Our question is where has the remaining amount of money gone? Without utilisation certificates, how could money be released by the finance department?"
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