Sun, 29 Jan 2023

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], January 4 (ANI): 'Jaga Mission', an initiative by the Naveen Patnaik government to upgrade almost 3,000 slums in Odisha, has won Bronze for the second time at an awards show organised by World Habitat, in partnership with UN-Habitat.

The initiative previously won the award in 2019.

According to an official statement, the Jaga mission is the land titling and slum upgrading programme aiming at empowering slum dwellers.

Mathi Vathanan, principal secretary, state Housing and Urban Development department, said, "We are delighted to receive the Bronze World Habitat Award for Jaga Mission for the second time.""Jaga Mission has successfully demonstrated that there is an urgent need to have a paradigm shift in the governments' approach by recognising the informal settlements and the slum-dwellers as indispensable parts of the city fabric and empowering them with land tenure security, and better living habitat. This global recognition helps promote this best practice for other governments dealing with similar challenges of rapid urbanisation and the consequent rise of informal settlements," he added.

David Ireland, chief executive of World Habitat, said, "Jaga Mission is a hugely ambitious state-wide project that aims to make Odisha state slum-free by upgrading informal settlements, improving governance and securing land ownership for slum dwellers. There is nothing else like it."The awards recognise and highlight innovative, outstanding and revolutionary housing ideas, projects and programmes from across the world.

The BJD government in Odisha has set itself an ambitious target of becoming the first slum-free state in India. The 'Jaga Mission' programme is aimed at upgrading all of the state's 2,919 slums -- improving the living conditions for 1.7 million people.

According to the official release, the project takes a holistic approach to address poverty, focusing on three core issues -- granting land rights to residents to mitigate the threat of forced evictions and enable access to public housing subsidies, infrastructure upgrades to improve living conditions and livelihood opportunities, and community mobilisation to empower marginalised groups to construct, manage and maintain the upgraded facilities.

It further informed that till date, 707 slums have been upgraded across 30 cities, of which eight have been declared slum-free. Inspired by Odisha, the programme is now being replicated in Punjab, where it will benefit 1.4 million people, the release stated.

Samson Suna and his family, who are among the beneficiaries of the project, live in a slum at Odia Para in the Kesinga town, in southern Odisha.

Samson's home, near the Kesinga train station, used to have brick walls, an asbestos roof and an unsanitary toilet. The slum, located on railway land, has access to a road along the railway line, but did not have paved streets, open spaces, and adequate lighting or a drainage system.

In 2020, Samson and other families settled in the Odia Para and the neighbouring Ambajj Mandir Para slums were served eviction notices by the Railways, which required land for constructing underpasses.

Under the 'Jaga Mission', the government worked closely with Samson and more like him to find suitable vacant land, plan layout designs and create new mini neighbourhoods for them to settle in.

Their new habitat contains piped water supply, individual household toilets, electricity, stormwater drainage, open spaces, children's play areas, community centres and paved streets with lighting. Further, all the families have received land deeds, thereby ruling out concerns of future eviction notices.

Samson said, "I can't find words to express my relief at how things turned around for us? Our lives have changed for the better."The annual corpus for the project is approximately Rs 5 billion, which is borne largely from funds set aside in the state budget and grants from the Centre and other states. (ANI)

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