ACCHAM, Jan 2: A former bonded laborer, Janak Aaughi of Hattikot, Mallekh-8 of Accham district finally has a home to call his own. The government grant to construct homes, although it came late, has proved a huge respite for a former Haliya (indentured ploughman) like him.
“Three years ago, the government provided us a grant of Rs 150,000 to purchase land. This year, they provided us Rs 325,000 in grants, which we spent to construct our home,” said Aaughi.
In fiscal year 2016/017, a total of 19 freed Haliya families like his in the district received house construction grants from the government. Of them, 11 hold 'A' category identity cards while the remaining eight hold 'C' category identity cards.
For long, Jhupre Dholi and his family in Baligaun had been unable to live in the house they desired. After constructing a better home with the grants, he said this is the first time in his life that his family is living in a proper home.
Previously, they used to live in small makeshift tents constructed in others' land. Dholi, who is also a liberated Haliya, expressed happiness to live in his own home from this year. They were freed 10 years ago but had no roof over their heads after being displaced from their former masters' homes with the liberation of the bonded laborers.
“It was really tough living in a makeshift tent, that too in other people's land. We lived a very congested lifestyle inside the tent in lack of space. Now that problem is no more,” said Dholi.
The government had started distributing house construction grants to the freed bonded laborers who hold 'A' category and 'C' category identity cards from fiscal year 2014/015. According to District Land Revenue Office of Accham, 26 Haliya families have so far benefited from the grants.
The office informed that Rs 17.8 million was allocated to Accham for programs to rehabilitate and integrate the former bonded laborers. Out of the total budget, the district returned Rs 3 million to the state's coffers.
Initially, the government record had 212 families of freed Haliyas. Later, 38 families submitted application to remove themselves from the list, dropping the number of total freed Haliya family to 174.