Homestead bill in winter session: Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) The government will introduce the homestead bill, aimed at ensuring a home for shelterless people across the country, in the winter session of parliament, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here Wednesday.

The National Right to Homestead Bill, 2013 aims to ensure every shelterless poor family has a right to hold homestead land of not less than 10 cents.

"We will introduce the bill in the coming winter session of parliament, if it is allowed to function," Ramesh said at a conference on women's right to property here.

According to government data, more than 31 per cent of households in the country are landless. Almost 30 per cent own less than 0.4 hectares, meaning 60 per cent of the population owns only five per cent of the country's land.

Bina Agrawal, professor of development economics at the University of Manchester, said: "The intention behind providing 10 cents of land was to ensure a kitchen garden for every household which can make a big difference towards food security."

Listing the steps taken by his ministry to ensure gender justice, Ramesh said he ensured that when houses are constructed under the Indira Awas Yojna, there is joint ownership.

"We have also ensured that bank accounts opened as part of the national rural employment guarantee scheme are in the woman's name and not that of the husband or any other member of the household," he said.

Pointing out the importance of sanitation, the minister said building toilets is the only way to ensure dignity and security to women.

According to Supreme Court lawyer and women's rights activist Kirti Singh, though the laws to ensure gender equity are present in our society, implementation always remains a problem.

"We bring in fantastic half laws and leave many loopholes in it," she added.

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