Veteran tribal leader Bandi Oraon (second from left) with Jan Mukti Andolan members inaugurate a seminar to protect tribal land. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, May 15: Increasing land alienation due to development projects and illegal land transfer have left social leaders and activists concerned.
On the completion of 100 years of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, leaders on Thursday, felt that the act has failed to safeguard tribal lands. They also felt that state governors have not managed to fulfil their duty.
“After Independence, around 22 lakh acres of land belonging to tribals in the state has been taken. If the trend continues, in the next 20 years tribals would have no place to go,” said Bandi Oraon, a veteran tribal leader, who is also the former vice-chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Commission.
Oraon was addressing villagers at a meet organised by Campaign for Right to Education in Jharkhand (CREJ), an NGO.
Taking stock of the CNT Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act, Oraon said, rules have been made “loosely” to facilitate acquisition of tribal land for “development” work. While highlighting the powers of deputy commissioners to grant permission for sale and purchase of tribal lands, Oraon said, this provision in the CNT and SPT Acts has proved to be the biggest loophole.
Oraon, who was a member of the Bhuriya Commission that drafted the Provisions of the Panchayats (PESA) Act, said Jharkhand should immediately implement the Act to safeguard tribal land.
Apart from Oraon, Sanjay Basumullick, a noted activist and Rashmi Katyan, lawyer in the Ranchi civil court, also took part in the meet.
Basumullick rued the failure of the state government to implement the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Right to Forest) Act. He said the act would directly benefit over a lakh tribal households.
The two-day discussion on CNT Act and SPT Act would also bring out the ill effect of land alienation on the tribal children.
Villagers, meanwhile, are apprehensive about the 63 MoUs that the state government has signed with various corporate houses.
“ArcelorMittal needs 12,000 acres of land in Gumla-Khunti. Several other companies also want land for their dream projects. What will happen to us?” asked an anguished villager.
They would take a procession on Saturday and stage a demonstration in front of the Raj Bhavan.