‘Sadly enough, the government has not taken any steps to evict the encroachers from the tribal belts and blocks. What is more, encroachments are taking place in these protected tribal belts and blocks daily’
GUWAHATI: The State government should immediately adopt a policy to free all the tribal belts and blocks from encroachments. At the same time, there must be a resurvey of all lands under such areas, and pattas must be issued to the indigenous tribal people in these protected areas. Making these demands, the secretary-general of the All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS), Aditya Khakhlari added that these steps will go a long way in addressing land rights of the indigenous tribal population in Assam.
At the same time, the organization welcomed the decision of the government to allow three bighas of land to the indigenous landless people of the State. He, however, added that while doing so the authorities must ensure that land rights of the indigenous tribal people of Assam remain intact.
Talking to The Sentinel, Khakhlari said, “There have been massive encroachments in the tribal belts and blocks. The government has already accepted this hard fact on the floors of the Assembly.
“Of the 85,80728 bighas of land in the total 30 tribal blocks and 17 tribal belts in Assam, 4,18,073 bighas have been encroached upon. Sadly enough, the government has not taken any steps to evict the encroachers from the tribal belts and blocks. What is more, encroachments are taking place in these protected tribal belts and blocks daily.”
Khakhlari further demanded, “A massive eviction drive must be carried out to free the encroached areas.”
Coming down heavily on the State government for not implementing the relevant legislation in this regard, the AATS leader said, “The Acts not yet implemented are the ‘Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006’ and Chapter-X of ‘The Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886’. This is one of the reasons for the massive encroachments in the tribal blocks and belts here.”
With reference to the organization’s demand for a new survey of the lands in the tribal belts and blocks, Khakhlari pointed out that “there is a need for carrying out this land resurvey since it has not been done for several years now. While doing so, steps must be taken to check how much of the surveyed areas there are still under the ownership of the indigenous tribal population.”
He further stated that “many indigenous tribal people do not possess any patta. Hence they are deprived of compensation especially when the government takes over their land for various developmental projects.”
As per the official data, the tribal belts and blocks are spread over 14 districts with Darrang having 12,75,648 bighass of land, followed by Sonitpur (10,76,434 bighas), Tinsukia (9,45,865 bighas), Kamrup (8,45,888 bighas), Dhemaji (8,46,032 bighas), Kokrajhar (7,23,029 bighas), Lakhimpur (7,12,063 bighas), Nalbari (5,77,491 bighas), Dhubri (4,01,964 bighas), Barpeta (2,43,379 bighas), Nagaon (1,68,961 bighass), Bongaigaon (1,36,567 bighas), Goalpara (1,31,471 bighas), and Morigaon (1,30,193 bighas).