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State tea estates possess 17,919 bighas of ceiling surplus land


GUWAHATI, Feb 10: Taking advantage of the previous Congress government’s improper enforcement of the Ceiling Act, 1956 in the last 15 years, many tea estates in Assam continue to keep thousands of bighas of land under their ‘illegal’ possession, depriving tea labourers and other landless families.

According to the Ceiling Act, 1956, if some plots of land under possession of tea estates fall under the very Act, the same plots of land should be allotted to tea labourers, ex-tea labourers and other landless families by the government after ceiling proceedings done by respective deputy commissioners.

Government records reveal that around 17,919 bighas, 11 kathas and 19 lessas of ceiling surplus lands are still in possession of 34 tea estates in the State. But the previous government at Dispur hadn’t done anything in this regard and tea estates have still been enjoying the ceiling surplus lands for their own benefits.

On this issue, Prahlad Goala, former president of the All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, said, “One of our main demands is that the tea estates which are in possession of ceiling surplus lands must give back the possessed lands to the government so that tea labourers and other landless families may be allotted the same. The Ceiling Act, 1956 states that ceiling surplus lands should be allotted to tea labourers, ex-tea labourers and other landless people. But the previous Congress government hadn’t taken any steps in this regard. The previous government didn’t even bother to conduct a survey to find out the exact amount of ceiling surplus lands possessed by some of the tea estates across the State.”

Goala further said, “Eighty per cent of tea and ex-tea labourers in Assam don’t have their own land and most of them live in tea estates forever. Due to this attitude of the government, tea labourers and ex-tea labourers have been getting deprived of their legitimate right.”

He hoped that the present BJP-led coalition government in the State will take steps in this regard and allot the ceiling surplus lands to the real beneficiaries.