15 years on, tribals can't find their land

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By RAJ KUMAR in Ranchi
  • Published 21.09.09

Ranchi, Sept. 21: As many as 21 families belonging to endangered tribes of Jharkhand haven’t been able to locate land given to them by the government 15 years ago, exposing the sham perpetuated by successive state governments professing their concern for the primitive tribes.

This reality stared at the face of Ranchi deputy commissioner K.K. Soan and accompanying officials yesterday when they were visiting Basu Kocha and Jorebore villages of Jargo panchayat of Naxalite-hit Tamar block, about 80km from the state capital.

There, they came across 21 families of Birhor and Paharia tribes, two of the nine primitive tribes of the state, who showed them valid documents to prove ownership of land, they claimed, they had never been able to locate.

Together, they owned 12 acres handed over to them under a welfare scheme for primitive tribes under undivided Bihar.

Soan and his team, that had to trek several kilometres to reach the village, were taken aback when confronted with chiefs of primitive tribes who flashed the laminated land documents but claimed they had no idea where their plots were located.

The Ranchi deputy commissioner then directed the sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the Bundu, Awdhesh Kumar Pandey, to ensure the families got possession of their land immediately.

He also warned a revenue official, Haldhar Mahto, of administrative action if there was any delay in carrying out his instructions.

The district public relations officer, Mukul Lakra, who accompanied Soan, told The Telegraph that this was the first time that such an irregularity was detected during field visit of a deputy commissioner.

Birhors are vanishing rapidly. As against 8,038 in 1991, their population has slipped to 7,514 in 2001.

Paharia is another primitive tribe with population about 2.5 lakh according to 2001 census.

However, they are better off than the Birhors. According to Shiv Charan Malto, a Paharia leader, the number of Paharias in 1991 was around 1 lakh.