Punargeham scheme guidelines relaxed


In a bid to find more takers for its Punargeham rehabilitation scheme for coastal families, the State government has relaxed certain contentious norms in its guidelines that deterred many from coming under its purview.

The meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Tuesday to review the progress of the scheme decided to alter the clause that stated that if work on the house was not completed within a year of receiving the first instalment of the assistance, the beneficiary would have to return the sum along with 18% interest. The modified clause did away with the need to pay the interest amount.

The government also decided to nullify the clause that required beneficiaries to relinquish their existing land if they had less than five cents. While the land would remain in their possession even after enrolling for the Punargeham scheme, they would have to demolish the existing building and also refrain from constructing new structures. They would be permitted to undertake farming or utilise the space to store their fishing equipment.

The beneficiaries, who were currently required to bear the registration fees while purchasing land, would no longer be required to shoulder the burden. Besides, while the guidelines mandated two cents of land and house with area not less than 500 sqft. in the case of those who wished to purchase existing houses under the scheme, this criterion had been decreased to 400 sqft. similar to the LIFE Mission.

According to Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian, the decisions had been made to convince more coastal families to avail themselves of the scheme that was aimed at rehabilitating those residing within 50 metres of the high tide line. While 18,685 such families were identified through a survey conducted in 2018, only 7,716 expressed willingness to shift to different locations.

As part of the scheme, financial aid of ₹10 lakh was being provided to beneficiaries who were required to purchase land and construct house. While the first instalment of ₹6 lakh would be released to purchase land and cover registration fee, stamp duty and other costs, the second instalment of ₹4 lakh would be provided for the construction.

Key hand-over

The Chief Minister would formally hand over keys to 276 flats built in Karode (128) and Beemapally (20) in Thiruvananthapuram and Ponnani (128) in Malappuram, and 308 individual houses in various districts, all constructed under the Punargeham scheme, on Thursday, September 16.

Mr. Cherian said another 36 flats being constructed at QSS Colony in Kollam would be formally launched in December.

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