They say home is where the heart is, but that’s not always true. Ask Arakhita Pradhan, resident of Chilipoi village in Odisha’s Ganjam district.
On a cold evening some 44 years ago, the authorities forcefully shifted him and his neighbours to a place where no civic amenities existed. Reason: the state had built an irrigation dam that had submerged their village in Khurda district.
The 19 displaced families built Chilipoi out of nothing over the next four decades—but remained homeless. For, the people were not officially given titles (pattas) to the land they were using. “Chilipoi remained illegal as it never appeared in the state’s map. Even though we set up this village with our hearts, we could not call it home,” says Arakhita.
Destiny favoured them in November 2010. Chilipoi became legally recognised after the families were given pattas for both homestead and cultivated land. “Within a year life has changed. I feel I have ownership over my life, family and land,” says resident Budhi Pradhan. Other residents say: “Jeevana pheri asi chi (life has come back to the village).”
The change in Chilipoi’s life is not abrupt; it is a culmination of a well thought-out programme. Rural Development Institute (RDI), an NGO working on land rights across the globe, started the programme in 2008. In 2005-06, Odisha refocused on its land reform and surplus land distribution laws, promulgated in early 1950s, to address the problem of landlessness.
Source: Down To Earth