Lakhimpur Kheri district administration has set up a first-of-its-kind rural township in Uttar Pradesh which is equipped with piped drinking water, sewage system, electricity supply, solar street lighting, a playground and cattle sheds for 26 landless families. This model is expected to be scaled up across the state.
Landanpur Grant (Lakhimpur Kheri), Uttar Pradesh
Sarla Devi, a 38-year-old mother of three children, had lived all her life under a thatched roof till the beginning of this month when she moved into a pucca house constructed with bricks and cement. Like her, 26 more families, all landless, have got a new address in Landanpur Grant village, a model rural township, in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh.
This model township, located about 180 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow, was inaugurated on September 1 by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a virtual ceremony when beneficiaries like Sarla Devi were handed over the keys of their new houses along with the benefits of several government welfare schemes such as ration card, pension scheme registration, MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) job cards, etc. Women are the owners of the new houses in this first-of-its-kind rural township in Uttar Pradesh which has a population of about 150 people.
“I have lived under a thatched roof all my life. When it used to rain, there was no option of cooking our food as water seeped through the roof and often we slept hungry. But now our lives are transformed after moving into this model village,” Sarla Devi told Gaon Connection.
Apart from the feeling of empowerment derived from living inside a pucca house, with patta in their names, women in Landanpur Grant village are elated about their neighbourhood that is equipped with piped drinking water, sewage system, electricity supply, solar street lighting, a playground with exercise facilities for children, and hygienic provisions for cattle rearing within the premises.
As part of its vision to provide pucaa house to every citizen in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government launched the pilot project in the Landanpur Grant village in the Kumbhigola block. The township, which is named as Baba Gokarnath ‘New’ Landanpur Grant Residential Complex, took almost nine months to be constructed. It is spread over 0.6 hectare area and has facilities at par with urban townships.
Talking about the genesis of the project, Arvind Kumar Singh, Chief Development Officer (CDO), Lakhimpur Kheri district told Gaon Connection, “It occurred to me that we should launch a pilot project and develop a rural housing colony on the lines of urban townships. We chose Landanpur village for the site and marked an acre and a half of land for the project.” Twenty six families, landless and mostly belonging to the underprivileged sections of the society, were selected, he added.
“The project has sent ripples of popularity in other districts as well and the Chief Minister has appreciated the pilot project,” said the CDO. The beneficiaries have also been provided Rs 120,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and various other funds for the development of infrastructure that supports their habitation, Arvind Kumar Singh informed.
Apart from the direct benefit transfer (DBT) entitlement under the PMAY scheme, funds have also been granted to the 26 families for setting up of cattle sheds and construction of lavatories.
“I am happy that I have received not only a pucca house but also a cattle shed and a buffalo. Also, there is a park, and we have all received a ration card and a card through which I can get medical treatment worth paanch lakh (Rs 500,000),” Sarla Devi told Gaon Connection. “We have also received Corona teeka (COVID19 vaccine),” she added.
Further, the women in these households have also been provided LPG cylinders under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to cook in a smoke-less environment. The beneficiaries have also been issued golden cards under the Ayushman Bharat health scheme which means that they are insured for medical expenses upto Rs 500,000.
The township is situated at a distance of three kilometres from the community health centre (CHC) in the Kumbhigola block headquarters and the nearest school is merely 500 metres away.
Devendra Kumar Singh, the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Kumbhigola, informed Gaon Connection that while all the 26 beneficiaries were landless families, 19 of these families leong to the Scheduled Castes, six are Other Backward Castes (OBC) and one family is from the general category.
“Earlier, the biggest problem under rural housing projects was that isolated lands were used for the construction of houses. There were complains that people were building houses on the land that belonged to the gram panchayat (village council) or was owned by some other villager. So disputes were common,” the BDO said.
“But now, we have provided housing to these landless families together in a single township so there is no dispute now and house ownership is with women,” Devendra Kumar Singh added.
Rekha Devi, a 33-year-old beneficiary of the scheme, told Gaon Connection that the biggest benefit of the scheme has been that she can live with her children under the same roof.
“Hum apne bachchon ko maayke me rakhte the. Humare yahan ikdum jagah hi nahin thi ki apne bachchon ko apne paas rakh payen,” Rekha, a mother of two kids, said. (I used to keep my children at my parent’s place as there was no space in my husband’s house for them)
“I am happy to see clean drainage available for my house. Earlier there used to be squabbles over petty issues as to who is throwing the garbage in the open. But now there is no such tension. Achha lag raha hai,” she added with a smile. (I am feeling good)
While inaugurating the new township, CM Adityanath said, “In just the last four years, over 4.73 lakh houses have been made available to people in rural and urban areas of the state. Today 5.51 lakh beneficiaries are entering their homes. I extend my congratulations and best wishes for this too.”
Adityanath said about 70 per cent of the beneficiaries of the PM Awas Yojana were women. “Through this scheme, these women are on the path of becoming self-reliant,” he said on September 1.
While 150 residents in the new township in Landanpur Grant village have started their life afresh, the village has a total population of about 16,000 people (as per 2011) census and an estimated half of its population continues to dwell in unhygienic conditions with no tenure security.
The pilot project is a step in the right direction but a lot more needs to be done to realise the dream of providing a pucca household to every citizen in India’s most populous state that is going for elections early next year.