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Meghalaya’s land grouse

Shillong, March 6: Meghalaya is supposedly losing its land along the inter- state boundary to Assam because of cumbersome and expensive land registration, unlike in the neighbouring state where it is not only “free”, but comes along with freebies.

This was brought to the notice of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) today by one of its members.

Felicitating newly elected council chairperson Teilinia Thangkhiew, KHADC member representing Jirang constituency in Ri-Bhoi district, Victor Ranee, pleaded for an immediate modification of the land registration system to ease the burden on the people and ensure that land does not go to Assam.

“It is very difficult for our people living along the inter-state boundary to register their land in Meghalaya as the process is cumbersome and expensive. People have to pay huge sums to the headman and the chief (syiem) to get their land registered,” Ranee, who belongs to the Congress, said.

He pointed out that Assam has been “taking advantage” of this cumbersome process by offering to register land for free, accompanied by amenities like electricity and water supply to their houses.

“People are helpless. Therefore, they are forced to go to Assam to register their land,” Ranee added.

Later, speaking to reporters, he said people have to approach the headman first before going to the chief. They then have to turn to the court before stepping into the district council for completing the land registration.

There are also residents who register their land with the Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner.

The areas under his constituency where people are opting to register their land in Assam include Pillingkata, Iongkhuli, Umtyrnga and Maikhuli, Ranee said. The population in these areas is around 6,000 and the residents are mostly Karbis, Bodos and Rabhas, he said.

“It is a serious issue as we are losing land to Assam. The residents are of the opinion that if land registration is free, they are willing to register their land in Meghalaya. The land registration process was also one of the main issues I had raised during the electioneering process,” Ranee said.

He suggested that people should be allowed to pay to the headman and chief with whatever amount of money they can, but should not be forced to shell out a fixed sum.

As of now, he said, no headman was willing to take cognisance of the land documents without being paid a handsome amount.

Last year, chief minister Mukul Sangma, while speaking in the state Assembly, said Meghalaya has asked Assam not to accept land pattas issued by traditional heads to villagers living along the inter-state boundary as a step to clear the border mess.

“We have prevailed upon the Assam government not to recognise the land pattas issued by traditional heads to border villagers for land registration,” Sangma had said.

Taking serious note of the development, Meghalaya has told Assam that it should not encourage registration of land based on pattas.


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