| Ramesh Sharma at the consultation in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Every state should have a land reform commission as well as its own reform policy, said representatives of a number of non-government organisations in Patna on Sunday.
They were speaking at a state-level consultation on the proposed National Land Reform Policy at AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences. The meeting was organised by non-government organisations Poorest Area Civil Society and Pragati Gramin Vikas Samiti.
The speakers at the meet said gram sabhas should be empowered to resolve land disputes. At present, collectors or officials of similar rank are vested with powers to take initiatives in such cases.
Some of the speakers were doubtful of how successful the proposed National Land Reform Policy would be.
“Many land reform policies have been formed in the past by state and the central governments. But the implementation of these policies have not been effective,” said Sushil Shashank, the co-ordinator of NGO Deep.
He added: “For instance, there has hardly been any implementation of the Forest Act in Bihar. Nothing will change even if a law is framed unless it is implemented properly.”
Shashank said he was also not happy with the draft of the proposed policy as there was no provision in it for redress of grievances or the accountability of the government.
The draft of the land reform policy has been prepared by the rural development ministry and is, at present, being circulated among stakeholders and other ministries for consultation. It is likely to be passed by Parliament in 2014. It aims to redistribute excess government land to poor farmers at every village in India. There is also a special provision for helping women own land.
Vidyanand Vikal, chairperson, Bihar State Commission for Scheduled Castes, however, praised the Union government for taking steps to formulate a national policy on land reform.
“This is a welcome step. However, I, too, feel that the Union government should have given more time to the stakeholders to put forth their view on the draft of the proposed National Land Reform Policy,” he said.
Ramesh Sharma, a member of the land reform policy task force, was also present at the meet.
He said: “There has been a long-pending demand for a land reform policy in the country. If the policy is passed by Parliament, it can bring about sea changes.”