GUWAHATI, Feb 24 � Even as the stir for land rights took an ugly turn today with a protester�s self-immolation, the State Government started the process of formal distribution of land patta with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi handing over patta to city dwellers occupying government land for 10 years and above, at a function held at the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra here.
The first recipient was Purnima Saikia, mother of Deepamoni Saikia who died in the serial bomb blasts in Guwahati in October 2008.
Gogoi said the process for distribution of land patta to those occupying government land for 10 years and above had started in right earnest. He said in matters of land patta, preference would be given to those living below poverty line, homeless and landless people.
�We have started the process of distribution of patta from today and it would be completed in due course of time,� he said, adding that it was unfortunate that some sections had been trying to put hurdles on the way of allotment of patta.
Gogoi reiterated that the Government would not allow encroachment on forest land and wetlands at any cost.
�We will not allow encroachment on forest and wetlands at any cost. Wanton destruction of forests has led to flash floods, resulting in heavy erosion rendering many homeless and affecting lakhs and lakhs of acres of agricultural land due to siltation. Encroachment on wetlands will also lead to an alarming situation and may result in drinking water scarcity, health and other problems. We cannot allow things to drift to a point of no-return,� he said.
Gogoi said that the distribution process had been carried out in consultation with KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, and that they were free to demand that the process be expedited and can also raise other issues.
�We will listen to them. But why should they put a spanner in the process of distribution of land patta, which they have been demanding for long?� he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, Prithivi Majhi said that the process for allotting land patta had been made easy with the powers being vested with the district administration.
�Land patta can now be disposed of at the district administration level and it no longer requires the concurrence of the Cabinet, thanks to the Chief Minister for making the process hassle-free and less time consuming,� he said.
Hitting out at KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi for creating an unwarranted situation by resorting to agitation on the day of distribution of land patta, Majhi said, �It was clearly spelt out to KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi in course of a meeting with the Chief Minister on December 9 last year that the entire process of allotting land patta to around 70,000 to 75,000 families living in hills and plains of Guwahati would take at least three years and not six months as demanded by him. It was agreed upon to start the process of issuing land patta. And now he has taken a u-turn and creating an uncalled for situation.�