90% of Assam Natives Don’t Have Land-ownership Papers
A state-sponsored committee on protection of land rights of indigenous people, headed by former chief election commissioner Hari Shankar Brahma, has estimated that 90% of the natives of Assam do not possess permanent land `patta’ (legal document for land ownership), while at least 8 lakh native families are landless.
According to an additional deputy commissioner of Nagaon district, about 70% of the land is owned by nonnatives there, which is perhaps the only district where non-indigenous people possess such a share of land, Brahma said on Sunday.
The committee, formed in February as per CM Sarbananda Sonowal’s instructions, is expected to submit its recommendations on how to protect the land rights of the indigenous people to the government in June.
“In all of Assam, 63 lakh bigha (1 bigha= 14,400 sq ft) of government land, including forest land, grazing ground and others, are under illegal occupation, while at least 7 to 8 lakh native families do not have an inch of land. Ninety per cent of the native people do not have myadi patta (permanent land settlement), they have either eksonia patta (annual land settlement) or are occupying government land,“ said Brahma.The committee also found that many natives of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Majuli districts, whose forefathers lost their land in the earthquake of 1950, own neither land nor documents. The committee has also been mandated to review the British-era Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 and suggest measures for its modification.
Sonowal, while deciding to set up the committee, had said the government was taking steps to formulate a new land policy because “without land there can be no existence of the Assamese race and it is the government’s fundamental duty to protect the land of the original dwellers of the state and no compromise would be made in this regard“.