The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dispur eyes fallow tea land

Guwahati, March 13: Dispur today announced that it has decided to reclaim unutilised and encroached land from tea companies.

Revenue minister Bhumidhar Barman made this announcement in the Assembly while participating in a Zero Hour discussion initiated by leader of the Opposition Brindaban Goswami.

The AGP leader alleged that large tea companies have encroached upon more than 50,000 bighas of land.

Goswami demanded that the government should reclaim the land and distribute it among landless people, particularly former tea labourers and villagers affected by floods and erosion.

Veteran CPI legislator Drupad Borgohain warned that if the land was not distributed among the landless, it could trigger social upheavals, which could spiral beyond the government’s control. Ananta Deka, another CPI legislator, echoed his stand.

Earlier, in reply to a written question, the government informed the House that there were around 21,000 bighas of land, which tea companies have either encroached upon or left unutilised.

Barman said the government had distributed some surplus land above the ceiling to the landless. The companies encroached the plots once again since they were kept unutilised by those to whom the plots were allotted.

The minister assured the House that the government would reclaim land which has either been encroached upon or is not being utilised by tea companies for purposes of tea plantation. He added that the process would be completed by December.

In reply to a written question, the government also informed the Assembly that it had distributed land among 93,127 landless families. For distribution of surplus land above the ceiling, district-level committees will be set up with the additional deputy commissioners (revenue) as chairpersons. The committees will also have local legislators and circle officers as members.

Barman said the committees would expedite the process of reclamation. He also urged the legislators to bring to the government’s notice if there was any encroachment of land by tea companies in their areas.

Later, the House also held discussions on the state budget. AGP leader Chandra Mohan Patowary said the budget was anti-poor and bereft of novelty. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a Rs 2,836.24-crore deficit budget yesterday.

Patowary said the growth in revenue collection was very meagre, at just 1 per cent.

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