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Brahma spells out challenges before land rights panel

 MANGALDAI, Aug 12 - Hari Sankar Brahma, chairman of the seven-member ‘Committee for Protection of Land Rights of the Indigenous People of Assam’ and former Chief Election Commissioner of India, observed that taking necessary steps in regard to huge areas of land under illegal or legal occupation has posed the biggest challenge to the committee.

Brahma was interacting with people from different sections of the society, including local leading citizens, members of various non-political organisations, leading NGOs, officers and staff of the Government’s Revenue Department, besides stakeholders, including representatives of the Mouzadars and Gaonburhas at the Deputy Commissioner’s office Conference Hall here today.

He said, “Out of the State’s 78,000 sq km surface area, roughly 62 lakh bighas of land irrespective of class, i.e. Government land, PGR, VGR or Khas land are presently under occupation of the third party- illegally or legally, knowingly or unknowingly, and steps to be taken in this regard has been our biggest challenge.”

The meeting discussed many issues related to land and revenue, largescale encroachment of forest land, its serious degradation, threats due to unabated construction of buildings in urban and semi-urban areas, role of the Town and Country Planning Department, civic and Panchayat bodies, introduction of modern satellite-based technology in proper and prompt survey of all char areas, awareness among the indigenous people regarding their land rights and their responsibilities, simplifying the process of allotting land pattas, bringing more transparency and accountability in the administration, fixing of 1951 as the base year for granting land rights to citizens, mutation on inheritance land in case of indigenous people, fast reductionof agricultural land, among others.

The meeting, where several participants, including senior citizens Phulendra Nath Saharia, Hareswar Sarma, Bhabesh Kakati of AJYCP, Khanindra Rajbongshi of AASU, Binay Barua of the Mouzadar association, Bhupen Barua of the Gaonburha association, industrialist Anupam Deka, journalist Bhargab Kumar Das and Mayukh Goswami, Dr Pranab Kumar Sarma of ACTA, and Sahir Bhuya of Asam Sahitya Sabha exchanged their ideas.

Brahma assured the participants of taking utmost care to ensure the benefits of the indigenous people while preparing the recommendations of the committee.

“I assure you all that every effort will be made to protect the rights and benefits of the indigenous people irrespective of caste, community or religion while preparing our recommendations.”

The meeting was also addressed by Sreekumar Dohotiya, a member of the committee, besides Deputy Commissioner of Darrang, Ashok Kumar Barman.

In Udalguri: Let the BTC authority be the first to issue land pattas to its people, opined HS Brahma, while addressing officials of Udalguri district administration and other stakeholders, including common people of the district representing various linguistic communities and students’ organisations at the Deputy Commissioner’s Conference Hall here today, our Correspondent adds.

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