GUWAHATI, July 9 – The All Assam Tribal Sangha has demanded that the Assam Land and Revenue Act, 1886 should be amended and its provisions should be made stringent to safeguard the interests of the tribals of the State.
In a statement here, the Tribal Sangha has demanded that in matters of transfer of the land falling under the tribal belts and blocks and autonomous councils and also belonging to the tribal people living outside the autonomous councils, the approval of the Plains Tribal and Backward Classes Department should be made mandatory.
The boundaries of the tribal belts and blocks should be delineated through proper survey. Moreover, the Government should go for carving out new tribal belts and blocks to cover the new tribal habitations, added the Sangha.
There should be strict legal provisions to prevent leasing out of land belonging to the tribals, it said, adding a commission of inquiry with a retired judge as its head and Sangha members as its members should be instituted to go into the cases of illegal land transfer.
The Government should re-appoint the eight Additional Deputy Commissioners who were specially appointed to look into the Chapter–X of the Assam Land and Revenue Act and the Government should include representatives of the Tribal Sangha and the chairmen of the Sub-divisional Tribal Development Boards as members in the sub-divisional land advisory committees proposed to be set up.
The Sangha expressed its resentment over the non-inclusion of any representative of the tribals in the land advisory committee formed by the State Government with Dr Bhumidhar Barman as the chairman in the wake of the developments following the eviction drives in Guwahati.
The Greater Guwahati area was under the South Kamrup Tribal Belt prior to the shifting of the State capital to Dispur. To shift the State capital and to expand Guwahati city, the area falling under the South Kamrup Tribal Belt was de-reserved. This uprooted the sons of the soil from their native places. For, many of the tribals did not have land pattas and they were not conscious of the need of land pattas.
Those who were evicted from their native places in the name of establishment of the State capital, State Zoo, military cantonment, oil refinery, etc, are still subjected to eviction. Moreover, many of the tribal people settling in many areas of the city have not been able to secure their land pattas, as they are not in a position to pay the premiums fixed by the Government for the purpose, alleged the Sangha.
The Government is also denying land pattas to many tribal families settling in the Hengrabari-Barbari grazing reserve for decades. The argument of the Government in this respect was that these people were settling on a grazing reserve land. But the same area has been allotted to some influential people later on.
The palatial buildings built by these influential people have been causing flash floods in Hengrabari area.
Therefore, the Sangha said one retired IAS officer should be included in the land advisory committee set up for allotting land to the landless people in Guwahati. The amount of premium required for allotment of land should be halved in the cases of the tribals, the tribals should be granted land pattas wherever they are residing and the tribals, who are living in the forest areas and the fringe areas of the forests, should be granted land rights as per the provisions of the 2006 Right to Forests Act, said the Sangha.