Guwahati: An umbrella organization of various indigenous tribes of Assam has been undertaking a statewide fact-finding survey regarding issues about the protection of the land rights of tribal people.
The Coordination Committee of Tribal Organizations of Assam (CCTOA) formed five groups after meeting Assam's Welfare of Plains Tribes and Backward Classes (WPT&BC) Minister Ranoj Pegu last month. The meeting with the WPT&BC Minister came in connection with the implementation of the Basundhara scheme of the State Government, which focuses on land-related issues like a mutation of land, updating of land records etc.
Talking to The Sentinel, CCTOA chief coordinator Aditya Khakhlari said that four of these newly-formed groups have already visited several districts with tribal-dominated and forested areas to collect data regarding some key land-rights-related aspects.
According to Khakhlari, these key aspects include ascertaining whether the Basundhara scheme has encompassed all Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities of Assam and, if not, the communities which have been deprived of due benefits and the reason thereof:
Secondly, whether tribal communities dwelling in forest areas as per provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 are being included under the Basundhara scheme and, if not, the reason thereof:
Thirdly, whether there has been any encroachment upon the land in the Tribal Belts and Tribal Blocks of the State and, if so, the quantum thereof:
Fourthly, whether a land survey has been done in any tribal area of the State and, if not, the reason thereof.
Khakhlari said that the five survey groups will submit their respective reports to the CCTOA at a meeting that will be held on March 10. After going through these reports, CCTOA will submit a memorandum to the State Government and subsequently engage in a dialogue with it to remove obstacles in the path of giving due land rights to the tribal communities of Assam, he said.
Khakhlari said that one group, led by All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) president Sukumar Basumatary, has visited all districts in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). This group includes representatives of the All Bodo Students' Union, Sarania Kachari Students' Union, Madahi Students' Union and All Rabha Students' Union.
Another group, led by Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) president Rajkumar Morang, visited Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia and Biswanath districts. This group included representatives of the Deuri Students' Union, Sonowal-Kachari Students' Union and Khamti Students' Union.
Khaklari himself, in the capacity of secretary-general of AATS, led the third group comprising members of other tribal unions on a survey of Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon, Hojai and Morigaon districts.
The fourth group visited Kamrup, Kamrup (M), Goalpara, Nalbari, Barpeta, Bajali and Dhubri districts.
The fifth group, comprising members of the central committee of the CCTOA, will visit the three districts of the Barak Valley, Karbi and West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts soon, Khakhlari added.