Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma has taken a historic step on Friday. In fact, the state government transferred land ownership rights to the tribal families of Gittim village, a reserve in West Garo Hills, while Meghalaya does not have land ownership rights like other parts of India. In a function, Sangma granted ‘Bhoomi Patta’ to 100 tribal families, fulfilling the decades-old demands of the land owners.
Meghalaya does not have clear land ownership
Officials said that due to the unique and traditional farming systems of jhum cultivation (burning and transfer method of agriculture) and distinct social structure, the northeastern state does not have clear land ownership. Ever since the reorganization of states in 1972 and the grant of statehood to Meghalaya, the tribals of Meghalaya have been requesting recognition of their rights over land. Meghalaya, where more than 86 percent of the total 30 lakh population is tribal, was created by separating two districts from the state of Assam.
The big challenge was to identify the right owners.
With increasing modern farming, there has been an increase in the demand for clear consolidation of land and its ownership. A Meghalaya government official said that on August 19, 2018, a memorandum was submitted to Chief Minister Sangma, seeking a solution to the challenge being faced by the people. The absence of land records and formal documents posed a challenge in identifying the rightful owners. The official said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, all legal hurdles related to land rights were removed during the last two years to complete the much needed demarcation of land.
made legal provisions for legal rights on land
The Chief Minister said that the right to land is the key to the tribal identity of our people. Hence transfer of land rights to rightful owners is one of our topmost agenda. In the last four and a half years tenure, we have done everything to help the people of Reserve Gittim, we have made legal provisions to give legal rights over land to the tribal people of Meghalaya. Going forward we are planning to help the tribals. People across the state who are facing similar challenges.
Why is the settlement process so important?
West Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe said that the process of settlement is very important. Important for every application including bank loan, land document, land settlement process. The Congress-led UPA government at the Center enacted the Forest Rights Act, 2006 to recognize individual rights, community rights and other forest rights of tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had on or before December 13, 2005 Forest land was in possession.
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