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Why Assam is Repealing the 'Bhoodan Act'

Vinoba Bhave, a social reformer, pooled agricultural lands and distributed them to landless poor under the Bhoodan Movement

Why Assam is Repealing the Bhoodan Act

Image Credit: Horvatland

Sentinel Digital Desk

On August 30, 2022, Assam's Cabinet decided to repeal around 300 Acts that were considered "obsolete." The Bhoodan and Gramdan Acts, which came into existence at the end of the Bhoodan Movement launched by social reformer Vinoba Bhave, were added to the list.

Bhave during his highly-publicized movement pooled agricultural lands and distributed them to landless poor under the Bhoodan Movement. After launching the movement in Telangana, Bhave walked across India for 13 years asking people to donate one-seventh of their land so that he could give it to the landless. Bhoodan meant voluntarily giving away a part of land to landless people.

Likewise, the Assam Gramdan Act provided for the establishment of gramdan village in pursuance of the Bhoodan Yojna movement.

The Bhoodan Act of 1965 was brought in later to streamline the distribution and protection of these lands.

The amendment of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886, will involve vesting lands under the control of Assam State Bhoodan Gramdan Board to the Government. It needs mention here that the Act is not applicable to the areas protected by the 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Why Assam Wants to Repeal the Act:

The Government of Assam wants to curb "illegal encroachments" by regularizing bhoodan/gramdan lands by aggregating them into existing land banks. In Assam, over 3,500 bighas of land is believed to be under encroachment. Reportedly, the state government intends to settle indigenous occupants on bhoodan/gramdan lands and allow the government to be the custodian of the land.

This will also allow the government to take punitive/legal measures in case of unabated encroachment/land grabbing/illegal transfer etc.

The Government will also amend the Assam Land and Revenue Regulations (ALRR), 1886 to provide rights to the grantees, optimum/judicious use of bhoodan lands post-conversion to government land, settlement of indigenous occupants on bhoodan/gramdan lands as per ALRR and the Land Policy, 2019.

This move comes against the state government's pushback against alleged encroachments. Data of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has revealed that as much as 13 percent of Assam's total forest area is under encroachment, which is almost double the all-India rate.

When will the Acts be Repealed?

During the forthcoming session of the Assam Assembly that commences on September 12, the Cabinet will introduce two sets of repeal bills that are expected to pass without any hassle.

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