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NGOs for bill amendment

Shillong, Sept. 16: Social organisations in Meghalaya today sought the intervention of chief minister Mukul Sangma on the Centre’s Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, as it did not cover areas falling under the Sixth Schedule and also to exempt the application of the bill in the entire state.

The bill was introduced in the recent monsoon session of Parliament.

In a meeting held here, the organisations, under the banner of Social Organisations of Meghalaya Against Land Alienation (SOMALA), said it appeared that the bill did not separately consider the indigenous areas in Meghalaya, which came under the purview of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

“We are apprehensive that the bill will be an instrument, which will enable the state government to seize the land of the people for their vested interests and for the investors, promoted by different organisations. Such an instrument will be in conflict with the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, whose mandate is to ensure that the indigenous people are in possession of the land in the scheduled areas,” SOMALA said in a letter to the chief minister.

The umbrella organisation also said the Sixth Schedule sought to safeguard the customs and traditions of the indigenous people of Meghalaya, who earned their livelihood from the land, which was considered their heritage.

“Land in Meghalaya belongs to the people and not to the government. The land holding system is administered by the land tenure system, rather than through any regulations framed by the state government,” it said.

On the Meghalaya Transfer of Land Regulation Act, 1971, SOMALA said it had sent a representation to the joint committee constituted by the government, where it had been requested that Sections 4(1)e and 4(1)f should be omitted from the act.

The organisations said the sections have been grossly misapplied, leading to largescale alienation of indigenous land.

However, the organisations today proposed to the government to restructure the sections with the consent of the traditional institutions, social organisations and the people of the state.

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