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62 lakh bighas of land in Assam under encroachment: HS Brahma

 From our Correspondent

MANGALDAI, Aug 12: “The State has an area of around 78,000 sq km and out of this, roughly 62 lakh bighas of total land, irrespective of class i.e. government land, PGR, VGR or khas land, are currently under occupation of the third party- illegally or legally, knowingly or unknowingly and steps to be taken in this regard has come out to be our biggest challenge,” said Hari Sankar Brahma, the chairman of the seven-member committee for protection of land rights of indigenous people of Assam and former Chief Election Commissioner of India.
He elaborated the necessary steps to be taken regarding the large area of land under illegal or legal occupation, which is the biggest challenge before the committee. Brahma was interacting with people from different sections of the society, including local leading citizens, members of various non-political public organizations, leading NGOs, officers and staff of the government revenue department and stakeholders, including representatives of the mouzadars and gaon burhas at the Deputy Commissioner’s office conference on Saturday.
The meeting discussed many issues related to land and revenue, large-scale encroachment of  forest land, its serious degradation, threats due to unabated construction of buildings in urban and semi-urban areas, role of the Town and Country Planning Department, civic and panchayat bodies  introduction of the modern satellite-based technology in proper and prompt survey of the all char areas, awareness among the indigenous people regarding their land rights and their responsibilities, simplifying the  process of allotting land pattas, bringing more transparency and accountability in the administration, fixing of 1951 as the base year for granting of  land rights to a citizen, mutation on inheritance land in case of  indigenous  people and fast reduction of agricultural land, among others .
The meeting where several people, including senior citizen Phulendra Nath Saharia, Hareswar Sarma, Bhabesh Kakati of AJYCP , Khanindra Rajbongshi of AASU , Binay Barua of Mouzadar association , Bhupen Barua of Gaon Burha association , industrialist Anupam Deka, journalists Bhargab Kr Das and Mayukh Goswami, and Abdur Rahman Biswas of AAMSU expressed their opinions, also witnessed assurance from Brahma of  taking utmost care to ensure the benefits of the indigenous people while preparing the recommendations of the committee .
 “I assure you all that 99 per cent efforts will be made to protect the rights and benefits of the indigenous people, irrespective of caste, community and religion in preparing our recommendations,” he said. The meeting was also addressed by Sreekumar Dohotiya, one of the members of the committee and Deputy Commissioner of Darrang, Ashok Kr Barman.