| KMSS activists at a mass rally in Guwahati. File picture |
Guwahati, Aug. 21: The Assam revenue and disaster management department has recently instructed all deputy commissioners to issue notices to those found violating provisions of the state land policy by using agricultural land for other purposes.
In a recent order to all deputy commissioners, additional chief secretary Subhash Chandra Das said criminal action could be initiated against those found buying agricultural land and using them for non-agricultural purposes in violation of the provisions of Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886 and the Government Land Policy 1989.
“Restriction on use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes has been clearly spelt out in paragraphs 9.1 and 9.2 of the land policy, 1989. But it is reported that a large area of agricultural land has been transferred to non-agricultural use. It is learnt that in most of the districts, the deputy commissioners are allowing transfer of agricultural land for agricultural purpose, but subsequently some of the purchasers have converted them for non-agricultural purpose,” the order said.
It said some firms were buying agricultural land by submitting affidavits that they would use these for agricultural purposes but the government was worried by reports that most of this land was being used for other purposes.
The order asked the deputy commissioners to restrict non-agricultural use of such land and issue showcause notices to buyers who had violated their commitments given through affidavits. It also asked them to initiate legal action against the offenders.
The order comes following allegations by different groups, including the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), that private companies and real estate firms were violating the state’s land use policy. The KMSS is launching statewide protests from tomorrow demanding action against such firms.
The samiti is also demanding a new comprehensive land use policy along with a study to assess the number of landless people, including farmers, in the state so that they could be provided land.
A KMSS mass rally organised here on May 9 spurred the revenue department last month to authorise deputy commissioners to allot land to indigenous landless persons, tea and ex-tea tribes in the rural areas in accordance with the land policy with approval from sub-division-level advisory committees.
According to the circular issued on July 2, the allottees will get permanent possession of the allotted land in the form of annual patta after three years of continuous physical possession provided the land is used for the purpose it is allotted. A maximum of 7 bighas could be allotted for agricultural purposes. It also asked the deputy commissioners to send proposals for settlement of land for small tea growers.
On allotment of land to private institutions, companies and societies, it said the department would approve the proposal with prior approval from the state cabinet.