Ex-Kamaiyas to get Rs. 150,000

Govt endorses working procedure on grant money 

The government has finally endorsed the long-awaited “working procedure” concerning distribution of grant money for rehabilitation of remaining 6,000 ex-Kamaiyas who were liberated over a decade ago.
The modus operandi ensures Rs 150,000 for each Kamaiya family as grant to buy land for their settlement. Though the Ministry of Land Reforms and Management (MoLRM) had prepared the procedure about a year ago after the rehabilitation programme for around 27,000 freed Kamaiyas was halted for want of land, it had been pending for a number of reasons including disagreements on the modality of rehabilitation. The Prime Minister’s Office approved the regulations on Tuesday after some revisions to the original draft.
The revised procedure increased the grant amount from Rs 100,000 to Rs 150,000. Besides the grant, the bylaw provides each Kamaiya family with 35 cubic feet of wood through District Forest Offices and Rs 10,000 as housing assistance. The MoLRM officials said the grant would be distributed through the local land revenue offices and Agriculture Development Bank.
“The freed Kamaiyas themselves will have to find a piece of land they want to buy and the government will disburse the grant money,” said MoLRM Secretary Lalmani Joshi. The government will also provide land or Rs 150,000 for those ex-Kamaiyas who had received land earlier but were rendered landless due to soil erosion, encroachment or forestland expansion.
The ministry came up with the guidelines after it became almost impossible for it to find appropriate land to rehabilitate the freed Kamaiyas. The rehabilitation programme was halted after resettling about 21,000 Kamaiya families as the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation refused to provide forestland for distribution following the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government’s decision to increase forest cover from 39.6 percent to 40 percent. The land crisis, according to officials engaged in Kamaiya rehabilitation, has emerged as a major problem also because the parties have failed to implement the “scientific land reforms” committed in the Interim Constitution.
They say the problems on rehabilitation of the ex-Kamaiyas and other landless people could easily be solved if the government implemented the scientific land reforms. “What is still lacking is political willpower,” said an MoLRM official. The reports prepared by two commissions on scientific land reforms are gathering dust. It’s been a year the government formed a committee to study the report and recommend short-term, mid-term and long-term measures, but nothing has come out, as the Ministry of Finance is yet to release budget for its operation. (Originally published at The Kathmandu Post on November 30, 2011, Link: http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/11/30/capital/freed-kamaiyas-to-get-rs-150000/344673.html )

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