Andhra Pradesh Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister Botsa Satyanarayana said that land pooling was happening in the Visakhapatnam district in a transparent manner by holding meetings and earning consent of the landholders. Speaking to reporters in Vizag on Monday, Botsa said that since sufficient government land was not available within the city, the government had to go for land pooling in 10 mandals in the city, for a government scheme which promises house sites for the poor. He also said that land pooling for the purpose will take place across the state.
The state government has undertaken land-pooling of a total of 6,116.50 acres of land in 10 mandals of the Visakhapatnam district. The identified land includes âassignedâ and âencroachedâ land. Assigned land is land allotted to individuals from economically weaker sections, particularly from SC and ST communities, for livelihood.
The pooled land will be âdevelopedâ by the VMRDA by building urban infrastructure, like roads and drainage systems, and the land will be redrawn into plots in order to provide house sites to 1,50,584 beneficiaries found eligible for the housing scheme.
According to the terms of implementation, those who surrender their lands will be given varied sizes of âdeveloped plotsâ depending on whether they are an âassigneeâ or an âencroacherâ. VMRDA will retain 15% of the developed land âto meet the expenses of developmentâ.
The move has been opposed by local leaders and activists, and even the opposition Telugu Desam Party, though the land pooling process was initiated in 2016 when the TDP was in power. Allegations had surfaced that landholders were being coerced or misinformed while giving up their land under the land pooling scheme.
âWithin the corporation (Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation) limits, sufficient land is not available for the purpose, only small parcels are available. That is why the surrounding mandals have been studied,â Botsa said, adding that 38 teams district officials of Deputy Collector level have been appointed to oversee the process of land acquisition.
âThe 38 teams have studied the 10 mandals and identified 6,014 acres of land. This includes lands being âenjoyedâ (encroached), as well as government and assigned lands. We have asked officials to hold meetings with everyone involved and take their opinions,â Botsa said.
âAt present, the law says that people with assigned land can cultivate it but cannot sell it. Encroachers can also cultivate, but government can remove them if they see an opportunity, and can use it for government needs, if the land belongs to the government,â he said.
Along with revenue officials, officials from the Forest department, Horticulture and Agriculture departments have been roped in to examine the people, their documents, their usage of the land etc. âThey will hold gram sabhas, take photos and videos, convince the people and explain the terms of the scheme, and take their consent,â Botsa added.