GUWAHATI, May 19: The Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People of Assam has asked Dispur to conduct a survey in the State’s big tea gardens to identify surplus land and give them to small tea growers.
“Tea garden land is government land and was leased out to the gardens. Many gardens have surplus land whereas many small tea growers are struggling for land. The local young boys and girls should be given land,” Hari Shankar Brahma, former Chief Election Commissioner who headed the committee, said. The committee recently submitted its report to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Sources said there are nearly 800 big gardens in the State and the owners of these estates have a huge quantum of surplus land. The surplus land is lying unused and could be given to small tea growers for plantation.
Brahma also suggested a proper survey in the char areas and bringing them under the administrative mechanism of the State as the char areas comprise four per cent of the State’s total area, clearing of encroachments on lands belonging to xatras, temples, Debuttar boards and other religious bodies, forests and wetlands, and update revenue administration and land laws.
In his final report, Brahma has recommended that the government carry out survey and settlement, and offer land to the deserving indigenous people, to those affected by floods and other natural calamities, and to the youth who have launched small tea gardens.
One of the most serious observations made by the HS Brahma Committee is that the indigenous people of the State will become a landless class of people and foreigners in their own homeland in the near future.
The Committee says land rights of the indigenous people and their identity are at stake. It says if no effective constitutional, legal and administrative steps, including sealing of the India-Bangladesh border and detection and deportation of the illegal immigrants are taken, the indigenous people are bound to be reduced to a landless class of people and thus become foreigners in their own homeland.