Four years ago, Saurabh Godiyal decided to set up a guest house outside his native village Goda in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal district. However, when the 26-year-old approached Industry Department officials to secure a loan of Rs 35 lakh, he was offered only Rs 2 lakh. Disheartened, Saurabh dropped the idea and migrated to Haridwar, where he started a tours and travel business.
However, when his father Anusuya Prasad (59), a teacher, got a property card under the SWAMITVA scheme, which legally confirmed his ownership of his 120-year old ancestral house in Goda village, it revived Saurabh’s hope of setting up a home stay.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 11 launched the physical distribution of property cards under the ‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme. Interacting with beneficiaries via video conference, Modi said it will enable people in rural areas to use their property as a “financial asset” for taking loans.
After receiving his property card, Anusuya told The Indian Express, “I am going to apply very soon for a bank loan to help my son in opening a home-stay in my ancestral house. That loan amount will be used for developing an extra floor of rooms and renovate the existing area with better facilities like toilets, curtains, chairs and Internet connection.”
Uttarakhand is one of the five states where distribution of property cards has begun. State Panchayati Raj Minister Arvind Pandey said two blocks each in Udham Singh Nagar and Pauri Garhwal districts have been covered in the pilot stage and the property cards in the rest of the blocks will be distributed soon.
He said the accurate survey and demarcation of boundaries of houses and issuance of property card will resolve the disputes poor villagers often have with their neighbours in villages.
About other districts, Pandey said, “Ground work by the Panchayati Raj and Revenue Departments has been done but no directive from the Centre has been received yet.”
Others in Goda village have also decided to open home stays. Suman Godiyal, the village pradhan, said, “There are 40 houses in Goda village and all house owners have been issued property cards. Most of the villagers survive on farming and animal husbandry, but some are showing an interest in the home-stay business. So far, no one has formally applied for a loan, but they are planning to do so.”
She added that a home stay may prevent the re-migration of those who returned during the lockdown.
Priest Suresh Chand (53), who interacted with Modi on October 11, also plans to open a home stay for tourists. “I will use this card to get a bank loan. Tourists come here but they have no place to stay. A home stay is a good and safe option for me to make an earning,” he said.
District Panchayati Raj Officer Mohd Mustafa Khan said four residents of Goda have shown an interest in developing a home stay using their SWAMITVA card. “Following their interest, I toured the village last week with ADM S K Barnwal to inspect their properties. A home stay can be started in these houses with certain upgradations,” he said.
In Udham Singh Nagar district, property cards have been distributed to 6,570 people across 40 villages. DPRO Vidya Singh said survey work has been completed in another 500 villages and residents have been told that if they wish to take bank loans against the newly-distributed property cards, they can submit a proposal at panchayat meetings and can apply to banks directly as well.
Keval Krishna Pathak, a farmer in the district’s Charanpur village, said, “This is the first time that I have got an official document of ownership of my ancestral property. I never felt the need of such a document in the past but this will help me if I wish to sell the property and divide the proceeds among my children.”
An official in the Panchayati Raj Department said a survey of residential properties in rural areas is being undertaken for the first time in Uttarakhand. The official said that authorities have targeted the distribution of one lakh property cards by April 24, 2021 — the National Panchayati Raj Day.
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