NEW DELHI: In keeping with the Centre’s policy under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin, the Bihar government earlier this week announced a policy to facilitate the state’s five lakh landless beneficiaries under PMAY-Gramin to buy a small piece of land for construction of houses under the scheme.

While Bihar has taken the lead in approving such a policy, states like Odisha, Maharashtra and Assam are most likely to follow suit.

The landless beneficiaries of PMAY-Gramin in several states including, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra and Assam have been waiting for land for many years. To deal with this situation, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government had made a policy which directs state governments to give a fixed amount of money or a small piece of land to the landless beneficiaries of PMAY-Gramin so that the beneficiaries can build a house on it under the scheme.

Following the Centre’s guidelines, the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government earlier this week announced a policy under which the state government will support with Rs 60,000 landless beneficiaries of PMAY-Gramin to facilitate them in availing the benefits of PMAY.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior official of the state’s Rural Development Ministry told The Sunday Guardian: “We have already received a notice which directs to coordinate with the district administration and Block Development Officer (BDO) for speedy disbursement of the support grant given by the government.”

Mohan Das, a BDO, said: “The names of landless beneficiaries are already there and the support amount for buying land will be directly credited into their accounts. The state government has also decided to pay additional support of Rs 1.20 lakh to this group so that they can build a house.” “The state government’s decision will help nearly five lakh landless poor to get their own houses. The landless were not being able to avail the benefits of PMAY-Gramin. The new policy will help them to get the benefits of the housing scheme,” Das said.

However, the Bihar government had already adopted a policy under which the landless of Mahadalit sections of society were being given Rs 20,000 for the purchase of land, but the new policy is universally applicable to all the beneficiaries of PMAY-Gramin.

The Centre had raised a concern with states that the “neediest” section of the society is yet to get a house under its flagship rural housing scheme.

As per sources, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister for Rural Development, last month had written a letter to the state governments including Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha and Assam, stating that providing land to landless beneficiaries is crucial in achieving the target of construction of the houses mandated under the PMAY-Gramin. Therefore, the respective state governments should speed up the process of providing land to the landless beneficiaries of the scheme.

According to data of the Union Ministry of Rural Development, there are nearly five lakh landless people in Bihar who were identified under the PMAY-Gramin scheme, out of which only 5,200 have got land from the state government.