Orissa forms high-level panel for tribals` land rights

Orissa government has set up a high-level committee to recommend measures for effective and expeditious restoration of land rights of tribals.

Bhubaneswar: As part of steps to fulfil
promises made to naxal-selected mediators to resolve the
hostage crisis in February, Orissa government has set up a
high-level committee to recommend measures for effective and
expeditious restoration of land rights of tribals.

As per a notification issued last night, a six-member
committee headed by chief administrator of KBK
(Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) would submit its recommendations
to the government within six months, Revenue and Disaster
management minister S N Patro said.

Other members of the committee are the member, Board
of Revenue, secretaries of revenue and disaster management and
ST & SC development departments, revenue divisional
commissioners (RDCs) of southern and northern divisions.

The Secretary, Board of Revenue, would be its member
secretary, the notification said.

After holding Malkangiri District Collector R Vineel
Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi hostages, the
Maoists in February had demanded an early issuance of land
records for tribals in Koraput and Malkangiri districts.

The rebels alleged that many non-tribals illegally
possessed land of tribals which was also admitted by the state
government during the negotiation with mediators.

Stating that the state government had taken several
pro-active measures for protecting the land rights of tribals
in scheduled areas, the minister claimed that some amount of
tribal land had been freed from the possession of non-tribals.

However, Patro pointed out that the government could
not return land to original tribal owners as some of the land
holders had taken the matter to the court of law. "We have to
wait till the court orders," he said.

On steps taken by the state government, Patro said it
had appointed special officers to resolve dispute over tribal
lands in schedule areas. "The government has also offered to
engage good lawyers on demand by tribals to facilitate the
prices."

Two days ago at a public meeting at Bandhugaon area in
Koraput district, naxal-selected mediators Prof G Hargopal and
Dandapani Mohanty had accused the state government of delay in
constituting high level committee to resolve land dispute
between tribals and non-tribals.

"Though six weeks have already passed, the state
government had not set up the high-level committee as promised
to us during negotiation in February," Prof Hargopal had told
the gathering at Bandhugaon.

PTI

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