JONAI, April 28 - Expressing serious concern over encroachment of land in the tribal belts and blocks, the Jonai District Tribal Sangha (JDTS) and several other tribal organisations have blamed the State government for its lackadaisical attitude in protecting the shrinking tribal belts.
Addressing a press meet at the JDTS office on Friday, leaders of various tribal organisations lamented that the State government has utterly failed to protect the tribal belts which had been formed under relevant Sections of law relating to Assam Land Revenue Acts. They demanded steps to evict all illegal settlements in tribal belts and protect land rights of the indigenous tribals.
Reiterating their demands for protection of the indigenous tribals, JDTS secretary Padmeswar Doley said that cases of transferring tribal land to non-tribal people in Jonai Tribal Belt was rampant during the last decade, while several hundred acres of tribal land has been occupied by non-bonafide citizens and migrants from other States with the help of some unscrupulous officials in the State Land Revenue Department.
Citing a number of instances of illegal land possession in the tribal belt by non-tribals, Doley alleged that the illegal practice was running under the very nose of the local administration.
The leaders of the various tribal organisation, including TMPK (Mising student), United Bodo People�s Forum, ABSU, AASKSU (Sonowal), AADSU (Deori), etc., alleged that instead of implementing Chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886, some politicians and bureaucrats were encouraging the people of unprotected categories to settle on tribal land in Jonai Tribal Belt and thereby betraying the local tribal people.
�Some government officers and bureaucrats are adopting various unfair means to transfer tribal land to people belonging to non-protected category. Illegal possession of tribal land is posing a great threat to the tribal communities, while the State government is doing nothing for protection of the tribal belts and blocks,� alleged the tribal leaders.
The tribal bodies also urged the State government to take prompt and pragmatic steps for immediate enforcement and implementation of the provisions of Chapter X (Amended) of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886, and for appointment of separate Circle Officer (CO) in the tribal belts to deal with the land transfer works.
�We have demanded the State government to conduct land survey in Jonai Tribal Belt and grant periodic pattas to the tribal families. The Land Revenue Department has not conducted survey since 1965. We have reported to the Circle Officer, DC and even Director of Land Record & Survey of illegal mutation and land transfer cases time to time, but no action has been taken from their end,� exclaimed JDTS president Ajit Regon.
According to Tribal Sangha sources, out of 16 lakh farm families in the tribal belts, 90 percent families have not yet been granted land pattas, while land of around 8 lakh families are under the grip of encroachers.
It may be recalled that the Jonai Tribal Belt in Dhemaji district was declared by the Government of Assam vide notification No. TAD/Rev/70/50/45 dated March 13, 1951, with a view to protect the social, economic, religious and cultural identity of the indigenous tribal people. But the very existence of the tribal communities is threatened by the unabated occupation of land by other non-bonafide as well as illegal migrants.
Besides JDTS leaders, UBPF president Manuranjan Basumatray, AASKSU leader Trailukya Sonowal, MMK president Muktinath Pegu and others also spoke in the meet.