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Council asserts authority

- KHADC spells out stand on land acquisition

Shillong, March 26:The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) today asserted its authority that henceforth it would not allow either the Meghalaya government or firms to acquire land in areas under its jurisdiction without its consent.

The council’s chief executive member (CEM), Ardent M. Basaiawmoit, said this on the second day of the budget session here when he replied to a motion discussed in the House on the role of the district council pertaining to land acquisition procedures of the state government and other institutions.

Basaiawmoit said the matter related to land acquisition was serious and his executive committee required co-operation from all members of the council on the issue.

“Henceforth, we will not allow the state government or firms to acquire land without taking the council into consideration. There is a law which can back us on this so that we can prevent against any forceful acquisition of land,” Basaiawmoit said in the House.

The motion was moved by the Congress member from Sohra, Donevan Wanlang.

He said nearly 900 acres of land in his constituency, Sohra, has been acquired for setting up of NIT campus whereas it was hard for the residents to purchase a plot of land for their house.

Former executive member and Congress member from Malki-Laitumkhrah Antonio War also expressed concern over community land acquired by the government.

War said people can make their house and cultivate community land without paying anything and if such land is acquired by the government or any agencies, it would affect the people, especially the landless ones who depend on agriculture. He suggested that the executive committee should instruct various traditional heads that they should consult the council if there was any plan to acquire such land either by the government or educational institutions or firms.

Another Congress member, Banteidor Lyngdoh, also supported the motion.

Congress member Victor Ranee, representing Jirang constituency along the Meghalaya-Assam border, informed the House there was also a big private firm which wanted to acquire a huge plot and sought to know if any no objection certificate would be needed for acquiring the land.

Earlier, Ranee also moved a motion on the problem faced by people residing along the Meghalaya-Assam border, especially in Jirang constituency.

According to Ranee, it was a burden for people along the inter-state border to register their land in Meghalaya as the process was lengthy and expensive. They also had to pay to the headman and the chief (syiem) to get their land registered.

He urged the council to take cognisance of the problem so that land and territory of the state could be protected, while stressing the need to immediately modify the land registration system to ease the burden on the people.

The CEM, in his reply, informed the House that the executive committee would take necessary steps and that the advice of legal experts would be sought so that the action taken by the council cannot be easily challenged in a court of law.

“It may be easy to facilitate the people to register their land free of cost but we also need to talk about the legal aspect of the matter,” he said.

Basaiawmoit also said the council would work hard to ensure that it has its own land laws.