Bhubaneswar: In a bid to woo slum dwellers ahead of urban polls in Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sought inclusion of four more towns in the Centre`s Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) while showing keenness for making the state slum free.
The towns sought to be included in the RAY are Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda and Jajpur.
"The state government is fully committed to making Odisha slum free and has formulated a comprehensive policy for this purpose," Patnaik said in a letter to Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja.
The state government was also in the process of making legislation for according property rights to slum-dwellers and preventing growth of new slums-dwellers and of new slums, the chief minister said.
Patnaik`s letter to the union minister went close on the heels of the state cabinet`s approval on Tuesday of a legislation for comprehensive redevelopment and rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers.
The legislation, Odisha Property Rights to Slum Dwellers and Prevention of New Slums Bill, is proposed to be brought in the next session of the Assembly.
The moves are seen as steps initiated by the BJD government with an eye on the urban local bodies elections due early next year.
Six towns -- Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Puri -- are covered under the RAY. So far two pilot projects - Rangamatia and Mahisakhal slums in the capital - have been sanctioned and proposals for a few more slums would be submitted soon, he said.
It is essential to expand coverage under RAY by including new cities owing to the rapid economic growth and urbanisation of the state, the chief minister said.
"Taking into account the growth of cities and the incidence of slums, it is recommended that the towns of Balasore, Jeypore, Jhrsuguda and Jajpur (including Jajpur road) may be included under the scheme," he said.
The RAY - a scheme under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to give shelter to the homeless - aims at making the country free of slums. It seeks to provide property rights to slum-dwellers.