By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 1, 2022: Ahead of the rural and urban body polls in Odisha, the state government has approved an ordinance to confer land rights on slum dwellers and decided to revise scale of pay for school and college teachers as per the seventh Pay Commission recommendations.

The decisions were taken On Friday in a cabinet meeting which gave its nod to a total nine key proposals related to school and mass education, higher education, housing and urban development, panchayati raj and drinking water departments.

Election to panchayati raj bodies, the urban civic bodies and cooperatives in Odisha are due in 2022.

Promulgation of the proposed ordinance will not only ensure security of tenure but will also make the households eligible for availing benefits under housing schemes.

It will benefit approximately 2.4 lakh households covering about 9.7 lakh population in five municipal corporation areas, Housing and Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena said.

He said the ordinance is a reassurance to slum dwellers on their “Right to the City” and confirmation that the Odisha government values its people more than it values its land.

The Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act, 2017 was earlier enacted to provide land rights to identified and eligible slum dwellers with the twin objective of providing security of tenure and to transform slums into liveable habitats.

The Act was later extended to all the municipalities and notified area councils.

Similar provisions as the Act were incorporated in the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 through an amendment in 2017 to confer property rights on households living in slums under various municipal corporation areas.

However, after about four years the amended provisions were found inconsequential as no significant progress could be made regarding conferment of property rights to the beneficiaries owing to various reasons for which over two lakh households were deprived of availing housing assistance under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

The proposed ordinance will confer land rights on slum dwellers of municipal corporations in line with that which confers the right on households of municipalities and notified area councils by effecting necessary amendments in Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, 2003, Jena said.

Following the approval of the ordinance, the municipal corporations will either grant property rights or land rights to beneficiaries.

Chief secretary S C Mohapatra said the cabinet also decided to extend grant-in-aid to eligible employees of newly aided high schools, upper primary schools, Sanskrit tols, madrasas and non-government colleges, including erstwhile junior colleges.

The eligible employees in these institutions would get the actual revised grant as decided by the state government in 2017 based on the 7th Pay Commission recommendations from January 1, 2022.

The state government would bear the additional financial burden of around Rs 292 crore per year towards this enhanced grant-in-aid, he said.

The cabinet also cleared the amendment for college laboratory assistant-cum-store-keeper, librarian and PET recruitment services rules.

The cabinet gave its nod to set up rural works offices in each of the 314 blocks in the state under the rural development department to expedite implementation of roads, buildings, bridges and other construction works, Mohapatra said.

It resolved to set up one rural works circle in Rayagada and three rural works divisions in Udala, Banei and Banspal, respectively, he said.

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