BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 28: The xatras are the backbone of Assamese society, but encroachment of xatra land has created a great demographic as well as socio – economic and cultural crisis in the State. It has bred a sense of social and religious insecurity among indigenous people. The Assamese culture, after all, has been enriched down the ages by xatriya traditions, instrumental in bringing about socio-religious and cultural harmony in the State.
Government records state that 169 bighas of xatra land have been encroached upon in Assam so far, but records available with the Assam Xatra Mahasava, apex body of xatras in the State, tell a worrisome tale. According to the Mahasava, 7,000 bighas of xatra land have already been illegally grabbed and the problem seems to be aggravating day by day.
The problem of encroachment is not only confined to xatras, but has also affected tribal belts and blocks, and even government land have been affected by the encroachment problem. As per official records, 2.34 bighas of tribal belts and blocks, and 42.34 bighas of government land have so far been encroached upon in the State.
There are also no exact figures available when it comes to encroachment of forest land, which can be estimated at hundreds of bighas. Another major reason behind encroachment of forest land in Assam is the aggression of some neighboring states.
But whenever the encroachment issue was raised in the State Assembly, the State government kept parrying the issue by merely saying that that DCs and district officials concerned have been asked to carry out eviction drives in affected areas. Although eviction drives were carried out in some areas, results have not been satisfactory so far.
On this issue, official sources said the authorities concerned on most occasions face tremendous opposition from the public while carrying out eviction drives, and as a result sometimes conflicts break out. In some cases, local people and doubtful citizens encroach upon land, added the sources.
The official sources further stated that they need full-fledged security and adequate funding to carry out eviction drives more effectively, but they don’t get all these on time. “So it’s not an easy task to make such huge swathes of encroached land across the State encroachment-free,” said the official sources, adding, “the government needs to frame a concrete policy to deal with the problem.”