THE ECONOMIC TIMES
19 JAN, 2011, 11.18AM IST, PTI
WASHINGTON: In the year gone by about 1.25 lakh families in India became legal landowners, said a US-based non-profit organisation which has worked with the local government agencies.
"In 2010, more than 124,000 poor families in India became legal landowners and now have the opportunity to build a better future for themselves," said Landesa, the Seattle-based rural development institute.
According to a media release, as many as 65,000 families benefited in Karnataka, followed by 52,000 in Andhra Pradesh, 4,000 in Orissa and 3,000 in West Bengal.
For the next two years it has set a target of three lakh families. Since 2001, it has benefitted some 433,000 families in India.
"To our beneficiaries, their new land title is more than just a piece of paper. It is the foundation for a new life. With this title, they can--often for the first time--send their children to government residential schools, grow the food they need to feed their children a balanced diet, and take advantage of government programs designed to help the poor improve their lives," the statement said.
Landesa said it partners with state and national governments across India to design, implement, and evaluate programs that put small plots of land into the hands of the world's poorest.
India has an estimated 15 million rural families who are poor and completely landless.
Most till other people's fields for cents a day with little hope or chance of improving their life, Landesa said.
"For these people, the most effective route out of poverty is owning a micro-plot of land--a homestead of less than 1/10th of an acre. Micro-plots provide families with a place to live, grow their own vegetables, and supplement their income. The small size of a micro-plot belies its big impact," it said.
"These tennis-court-sized plots are Landesa's innovative tool that allows many of India's cash-strapped state governments to help large numbers of the poor in a cost efficient manner. In some states the total cost of providing legal rights to a micro-plot of land for a poor family and forever changing their lives is as little as USD 3 per family," it said.
"From the hamlet of Kharibandha in Orissa, to the Village of Peace in West Bengal, hundreds of communities are being transformed thanks in part to legal control over a small piece of land," the statement said.