GUWAHATI, May 27: Putting all speculations to rest, Dispur has decided to draft a new land policy on its own, and with this decision the State Revenue Department seems to be in for cracking a hard nut.
Dispur seems to be bitter and twisted after the differences in opinion between Hari Shankar Brahma, the chairman of the Committee for Protection of Land Rights of the Indigenous People of Assam, and his committee members came to the fore. The Revenue Department has long been pursuing a new land policy in the State, but to no avail. A land policy was also drafted in 2016. All such bitter experiences have led the department to take the decision to draft the new land policy by engaging its own officers, without involving any retired revenue and other officers, in the Herculean task. What is significant, according to sources, is that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has given his go-ahead signal to the venture.
The Revenue Department is going to notify the formation of a group of officers (GoO) with four/five officers within a few days for drafting the new land policy. However, the new draft land policy is not going to be formulated out of nowhere. The GoO is going to have some elements drawn from the existing land policies, the two reports of the HS Brahma committee, the Assam Land Policy, 1989 and the land policy drafted but not implemented in 2016, besides the parent and British-era Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886.
Brahma has mentioned in his report that restrictions should be imposed on the purchase of lands in the State by non-indigenous people and that the State Revenue Department fails to address land concerns in sar areas. These two areas, it seems, are would be hard nuts to crack for the GoO as a belief is doing rounds in the State is that suspected Bangladeshis have encroached upon vast areas of land in the sar areas in the State. This apart, people from other States purchasing lands for various purposes is also not taken lightly by most of the indigenous people in the State.
These are some of the woes as to why the general people in the State want a new land policy. Frequent cases of land grabbing, encroachment of forest and revenue lands, xatra lands, lands of devalayas, encroachment of lands in tribal belts and blocks etc in the State have also led the department to take such a decision.