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ST Commission advises against changes in Jharkhand land acts

By Ians English

Ranchi, Sep 13: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (STs) has rejected the Jharkhand government's proposed changes in two key land acts through an ordinance.

The national commission's chairperson, Rameshwar Oraon, told IANS: "We have submitted report to the central government advising against the state government's ordinance to make changes in the two land acts."


The Jharkhand government led by Raghubar Das had brought the ordinance in June to make changes in two land acts -- the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CTA) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act.

Oraon said: "The changes in the two land acts will hurt the tribal culture and sentiment. These land acts were formulated during British rule to protect tribal lands."

He said: "Our advice is based on the interaction with leaders of different parties. Even the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers are not in favour of any change."

If the ordinance is cleared, tribal land could be acquired for non-agricultural purposes like roads, power plants, malls and other purposes.

Oraon said: "The changes will hit the spirit of land acts. As per one clause, after the ordinance comes into effect, even the approval of the Deputy Commissioner would not be necessary for acquiring tribal land."

He also said that the ordinance proposed to make changes in the nature of the land from agricultural to non-agricultural.

Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu had already sent the ordinance to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval. Following which opposition parties from the state had met President Mukherjee requesting him not approve the ordinance.

Mukherjee had then sought the view of the central government, which had, in its turn, referred the matter to the Central Tribal Affairs Ministry.

It was the ministry which sought the National STs commission's view.

Jharkhand had been witnessing protest over the move since July.


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