“People‟s Parliament” on Land Rights

3 January 2012, Raipur. On 3 January 2012 a “People‟s Parliament” on land rights was organised at Tilda by Ekta Parishad and more than 50 associated organisations. More than 300 people‟s representatives took part in this event along with Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development and Shri Charandas Mahant, Minister of State for Agriculture, Government of India. Ms Karuna, Collector of Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh shared her experience of correcting land records in the district and said that in order to make the records transparent they displayed the detailed land holdings on the walls of the village school and invited the people to approach them so that appropriate corrections could be made. She said that this process freed the people from the burden of making repeated trips to the patwari and tehsildar‟s offices, paying bribes and being harassed and since the process of making corrections was done within a schedule timeframe people were able to get the benefits quickly. Through this process more than 90 percent of the land related disputes and problems were resolved, she said. This model of land dispute resolution and land records correction should be promoted by the Government of India.

In the meeting more than 20 representatives of different states placed their views and issues on the table and Shri Jairam Ramesh took the initiative to announce some steps that the Government of India would be taking in the near future. These decisions and actions are as follows:
1. Residential Land Rights would be ensured to enable homestead land for rural poor and homeless people.
2. Survey of the current status of Bhoodan Lands.
3. Matching of Revenue and Forestland records for corrections.
4. Establishment of fast track courts and land judicial authority for speedy disposal of cases pertaining to land that are currently under appeal.
5. Survey of Common Property Resources in the villages.
6. Survey and rehabilitation process in the Tribal Sub-Plan areas.
7. Amendment to the Prohibition of Benami Transactions and Return of Property Rights Act 1989 so that matters pertaining to benami land transactions and violations of land ceiling laws can be monitored.
8. Amendment to the Special Economic Zones Act 2005 so that the concessions on diversion of land in tribal areas and diversification of agriculture land can be prohibited.

Speaking on the possibility of directives to the state governments from the Government of India the Minister for state on Agriculture said that:
1. The 1997 Samta Judgment by the Supreme Court of India should be made binding on all private companies
2. involved in the acquisition of land in tribal areas.
3. In matters of sale and lease of tribal lands the land should be restored to the tribals and the Gram Sabhas in scheduled areas should be recognized as able institutions for the upkeep of land records.
4. The responsibility for banjar lands within their jurisdiction should be given to the Gram Panchayats and within two years a survey of forest and land common property resources should be completed to ensure eligibility for traditional rights.
5. 4. All matters of encroachment and forest crimes, against the tribal people, should be withdrawn with immediate effect.

Shri Ravindra Chaube, Leader of the Opposition, State Legislature, Chattisgarh, Shri Sharatchandra Behar, Ex-Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh and Prof. Pravin Jha, JNU, New Delhi also participated in the “People‟s Parliament” on land along with the senior leaders of various social organisations in the country.

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