New Delhi, Sept. 10: The Centre is planning to carry out a land survey in 60 Maoist-affected districts and provide legal aid to tribals fighting disputes over plots amid concerns that tribal dispossession was the main reason behind the growth of Naxalism.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh today said a large number of tribals had lost land to non-tribals.
“We have to document these cases and provide legal assistance to tribals who are fighting land alienated disputes,” he told at a media conference.
The minister said about 75,000 such disputes over tribal land were pending in various courts in Andhra Pradesh alone. Thousands of similar cases were pending in courts in Orissa, Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
These cases against tribals had been filed over the past 50-60 years when their traditional rights were not recognised by earlier forest laws. However, the Forest Rights Act, enacted in 2006, recognised the rights of tribal people over their land.
At a conference in November 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed displeasure over the cases against the tribal people and said “the heavy hand of criminal justice system has become a source of harassment and exploitation”.
The rural development ministry will hold a conference of collectors of the 60 Maoist-affected districts and state officials on Tuesday to discuss the modalities for providing legal aid to the tribals.
“Tribal land has been transferred to non-tribals. The main problem in these districts is related to land. When the land issue is lingering, the Naxalites are finding scope to enter into these areas and associate with tribals,” Ramesh said.
In most Maoist-affected districts, land records are not maintained. This leads to encroachment on the rights of weaker sections. The ministry will carry out a survey, both aerial and on the ground, to find out the ownership of every piece of land in these districts so that land records could be updated.
The ministry has already started a scheme to support states in computerising land records and strengthening revenue administration. On Thursday, Ramesh said his ministry was working on a “land titling project” and planned to digitise such records for a complete picture of authentic ownership of every piece of land.
At present, there is hardly any digital record of such data.
Tuesday’s conference will also discuss ways to speed up implementation of rural development schemes to address the problem of backwardness of areas inhabited by tribals.Courtesy:TheTelegrph.