Nepal | May 25, 2020

Freed tillers not satisfied with govt rehab package

Tekendra Deuba
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Dipayal, September 12

Freed tiller Pabitra Koli of Silgadhi, Dhamigaun obtained one lakh rupees provided by the government for rehabilitation. However, she doesn’t know what to do with the money as it is neither sufficient to purchase land nor enough to repair her old house in Doti.

Similar is the plight of another freed tiller Manuwa Bhul. Though she received the relief amount of Rs 4.5 lakh from the state, the money is insufficient to purchase land or to build a house. The tillers complain that the relief is not enough to solve their day-to-day problems.

“The amount is inadequate to purchase land even in rural locations. The government was supposed to provide us rehabilitation package in keeping with the price hike,” said Manuwa. “The state should have provided at least Rs 1 million each to the families of freed tillers,” said Gorakh Sarki of Doti.

“The rehabilitation project also is likely to be delayed due to limited government budget for the purpose,” said leaders of National Haliya Mukti Society. Though statistics show that there are more than 1,000 freed tillers in each district, the government has earmarked budget for only around 50 to 60 families per district, they said.

The state has categorised freed tillers into four categories. Those who don’t have land and houses have been kept in group A. Each such families are entitled to four lakh rupees in cash relief. Tillers who have houses but don’t possess land are in group B and are supposed to receive one lakh rupees. Those tillers who have land but don’t own houses have been kept in group C and those who have both house and land have been kept in group D. Tillers of group C and D are provided with three lakh rupees and one lakh rupees respectively.

Assistant Chief District Officer Mohan Joshi said insufficient budget was delaying the rehabilitation of freed tillers. “We have not been able to collect the exact data of freed tillers,” he said. Of 19,059 freed tillers from 12 far-western and mid-western regions, the government has approved 11,606 families so far. Of them, only 8,791 families have received identity cards, while only around 500 freed tiller families have obtained the government’s cash relief.

“Though it has been more than eight years since we were freed, our situation remains the same,” said Dalit leader Hukum Sarki. “The government had freed the tillers on September 8, 2008. However, the state is yet to take any initiative for our rehabilitation. Only a handful of organisations, including Lutheran World Federation, have been working to promote the livelihood of tillers,” said Sarki.

A version of this article appears in print on September 13, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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