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Can now sons of the soil heave a sigh of relief?

LAND RIGHTS & REFORMS

Dispur is going to bring about land reforms and frame
a new land policy in the State by including four components from the two reports submitted by land reforms committee chairman HS Brahma and committee members; the State Revenue Department has already prepared a detailed proposal for a new land policy and sent it to the Chief Minister

GUWAHATI, May 18: The Sarbananda Sonowal government has finally decided to go in for land reforms and adopt a new land policy in the State.

In a State like Assam where infiltration has been one of the greatest scourges for long, the vacuum in the absence of an up-to-date land law and policy has only perplexed the situation by exposing vast swathes of land in the State for encroachment, especially by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Soon after coming to power, the Sonowal-led BJP government had formed the HS Brahma Committee to see as to how land rights of the indigenous people of the State can be protected. In the absence of any land resettlement in most of the districts for a long time, the land situation in the State has been quite messy, leaving enough scope for encroachment.

Even as the Brahma Committee failed to ceremonially hand over its report to the government due to differences between committee chairman HS Brahma and its members, Dispur has already got both the reports – one submitted by Brahma himself and the other by the committee members – for printing.

Now Dispur is going to bring about land reforms and frame a new land policy in the State by including four components from the two reports. The four components are: (1) drafting of a new land policy either by government officials or by retired revenue department officials, (2) bringing amendment in the Assam Land and Revenue Regulations, 1886 and other land laws, (3) preparation of an action plan for land resettlement operations in the State that have long been overdue, and (4) examining suggestions as regard to restructuring and reformation of the revenue department and the directorate related to it.

The State Revenue Department has already prepared a detailed proposal for a new land policy and sent it to the Chief Minister, who also holds the revenue portfolio, for approval.

Dispur’s move could be instrumental in coming to the aid of the indigenous people of the State as far as their land rights vis-à-vis the encroachment of their lands by illegal immigrants are concerned. One of the predicaments that a large number of indigenous people have been forced to grapple with is that they do not have rights over the very lands they own, and in many cases four or five families together have common land pattas.

The erstwhile Congress government in the State did also take the desired steps to frame a new land policy in the State. Even as it had formed a committee with the then Revenue Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman as chairman, the move did not materialize.

Can now the indigenous people of the State heave a sigh of relief, given the enormity of illegal immigration from Bangladesh and the threat to the very survival of a pristine people?

About the author

Ankur Kalita