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Thu, 21 Nov 2019

Northeast Today

Assam Land Policy-2019: Definition remains in limbo

Assam Land Policy-2019: Definition remains in limbo
October 23
11:36 2019

NET Bureau

The State Cabinet gave its nod to the ‘Assam Land Policy-2019’ on Monday. The Policy is expected to address the various issues confronted by the indigenous people of the State especially with reference to land. Once it is notified, the new policy will replace the ‘Assam Land Policy-1989’. However, the fact remains that the new policy has not defined the core term ‘Indigenous’. Hence, the question still remains and the debate rages on as to ‘Who are the ‘indigenous’ people of the State?’

The draft ‘Land Policy-2019’ was prepared by officials of the Revenue and Disaster Management department in consultation with senior officials of that department and the Chief Minister’s Office. The draft report is based on the recommendations of the ‘Committee for Protection of Land Rights of the Indigenous People of Assam’ headed by former Chief Election Commissioner Hari Shankar Brahma, the ‘Land Policy of 1989’ and the draft ‘Land Policy of 2016’. The Brahma Committee was constituted on February 6, 2017, by an order issued by the Governor of Assam. The Committee submitted the report to the State Government on January 18, 2018.

After drafting the ‘Assam Land Policy-2019’, the Revenue department had forwarded the draft copy to 11 State government departments seeking their views including ‘inclusion to’ or ‘omissions from’ the draft land policy. Besides other departments the Home and Political, Law, Personnel, Agriculture, Forest, Finance, Industry, Guwahati Development Department, and Urban Development etc had sent their views and suggestions.

Significantly, the Home and Political department had mentioned that the term ‘indigenous’ needed to be defined with elaboration and necessary explanation of the significance of the term. The Home department also suggested that the NRC (National Register of Citizens) of 1951 may be considered as the basis for indigenous people who figured in that document irrespective of caste, community, and religion.

The State Revenue and Disaster Management Department “noted” the mentioned opinion of the State Home and Political Department. It neither agreed nor disagreed with the Home department’s view. When asked as to why it chose to remain silent on the definition of the term: ‘indigenous’, a source of the State Revenue and Disaster Management Department said that providing definition does not fall within the department’s purview.

Source: The Sentinel

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