Wednesday, May 11, 2005

150 square feet: a great possibility for squatters

Never look down your nose at an offer of land. The Times of India reports that the 30,000 squatters whose homes were torn downin December 2004 and January 2005 will be offered 150 square feet of land each on which they will be responsible to build new homes. They will also have to pay for infrastructure improvements.

"They will be allotted a 150 sq ft pitch on payment of cost of infrastructure as may be decided by the government. Furthermore, the allottee will construct his own house at his own cost," the newspaper reports, quoting from an affidavit filed by Ashok Jagtap, deputy secretary of the state housing department.

Of course, the details of this plan are crucial. If the government charges too much for infrastructure, or if it applies unfair construction standards and rules, no squatters will be able to afford to take advantage of the offer of land.

And here's something totally insane: according to the article, the same housing official also suggested that the Congress Party's vow to legalize squatters who had been in their homes before the year 2000, a campaign promise that was widely credited with helping to sweep the party to its recent electoral victory in Maharastra, was simply a misprint in its campaign literature.

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