The Telegraph
Saturday , July 29 , 2017

Panel for pattas to landless

Guwahati, July 28: The Brahma Committee on land rights has suggested in its interim report that the Assam government should give land pattas (deeds) to the landless people who have been living on government land for decades and protect tribal belts and blocks from encroachments.

In its 17-page report submitted to the state government recently, the Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People of Assam, as the Brahma Committee is officially known, placed the concerns raised before them by people during their visits to 23 districts.

The report said landless people living on government land should be given land to help them take government benefits and apply for loans. It suggested that people who have lost their land in erosion should be given land from ceiling-surplus land.

The committee expressed concern that there has been no land survey in the state since 1964, which is causing problems in getting the actual picture of the state's land pattern or encroachment. It suggested that the government expedite the survey process.

Besides, the committee found that digitalisation of land-related data has been done only in 15 districts of the state though it is on the verge of completion in 10 districts. It recommended that Dispur complete the digitalisation process by March 31, 2018.

The state government had constituted the committee on February 6 this year, with former Chief Election Commissioner Hari Sankar Brahma as its chairman, to suggest measures, including modifications in the Assam Land & Revenue Regulation, 1886, and other land laws, government policies and land policies, to ensure protection of land rights of indigenous people in Assam. The committee took charge on February 28.

The committee has since met various organisations, officials of the revenue department, district administrations, lawyers, political parties and the people. During the process, it received around 250 memorandums.

The committee's report conveys the people's concern that the state is still running with the pre-British era land law, The Assam Land & Revenue Regulation, 1886. It also raises people's concern that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are responsible for "galloping change" in the demographic pattern of the state, posing a major threat to the existence of the indigenous people. The report also calls for a repatriation treaty between India and Bangladesh so that the illegal migrants, when detected, can be sent back to Bangladesh.

The report also talks of nexus between politicians and bureaucrats in transferring government land.

Sources said the committee will now minutely go through the petitions and memoranda submitted by people and organisations and come up with detailed suggestions on the changes required in the existing land laws and measures in its final reports. They said the last date of submission of the report is July 31 but the committee will require at least three months more to prepare the final report considering the seriousness and vastness of the issue.

The source said the committee members are so hurt at adverse comments from organisations and individuals about their visit that one of them, Anil Bhattacharjya, returned his expenses reimbursed by the government to the chief minister while Ramesh Borpatragohain donated it to the chief minister's relief fund.

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