24 February 2012, Giridih
On 24 February the first halt of the journey was at Bagodar in Giridih district where a meeting had been organised by the ‘Sajha Manch’. Shri Teklal Mahto of Bagodar said that in the undivided state of Bihar 21,00,000 acres of land was donated during the Bhoodan movement.Thereafter due to lack of appropriate action from the administration only about 200,000 acres of land was distributed while the remaining has still not been distributed among the landless. Those who received land have also not received the ownership right to the distributed land because the state government has separated the Bhoodan Board from the administrative system. Even after separation Bihar and the creation of the state of Jharkhand the government has failed to make any plan for the distribution of the remaining 11,00.000 acres of Bhoodan land.In the district of Giridih alone there are 20,000 families who were declared as eligible for the Bhoodan land and the current government can at least give these families the pattas to the Bhoodan land that has been occupied by them. Shri Omprakash of village Toko said that the conditions that have been laid down in the Forest Rights Act for non-tribal communities are unconstitutional.Till date in the state of Jharkhand less than 1% non-tribals have been given land under the Forest Rights Act. For such occupiers the condition of producing proof of cultivation for three generations is unconstitutional since 75 years ago the British rulers did not give these occupiers any paper proof of cultivation of the said occupied land. Therefore how can these families fulfill such an absurd condition. He asked all the organisations to join forces and raise this issue before the government. Shri Gangaram of Bagorad said that according to a survey done by ‘Sajha Manch’ and ‘Ekta Parishad’ of all the claims filed under Forest Rights Act only about 11-12% have received a response from the government.Shri Murli Pandey of village Gharghuli said that in the region there are a lot of discrepancies in the implementation of the Employment Guarantee Scheme. The village leader of village Gharghuli keeps the job cards of all the dalit and tribal families in his control while all construction work is being carried out by hired machines. The people of the village have written many application to the administration at various levels but no action has been forthcoming. He said that in cases of encroachment the revenue department goes by the judicial proceedings as a result the numbers of such cases are rapidly increasing in the courts. The revenue department is never likely to take any action against those who have encroached on government land and so it is never going to settle the rights of the landless people who actually have a claim on these lands. In such a situation the Government of India needs to seriously re-think the working and system of its revenue department.
The next halt of the journey was at village Markachcho in Kodarma District where a public meeting had been organised by ‘Sajha Manch’. Addressing the meeting member of the Zilla Parishad Shri Gopal Yadav said that in this region only 1% of the population is tribal but even so in Meghatarai village and other parts of the region more than 80% of the claims made by the tribal people have not been granted.In the last 20 years more than 200 check dams have been built in the Kodarma region but only 1000 hectares of land has become irrigated, he added. In a large part of the region legal and illegal mining of mica is being done on a large scale. Most of these mines are located on tribal lands and the government can easily make this an opportunity of employment and development for the tribal people by establishing a cooperative system of mining but the apathy and inefficiency of the administration is such that the tribals are not able to get any benefit from this mining despite hard toil. Shri Tulsi Paswan of Markachcho village said that this region is also known for the disputes on Bhoodan lands.8000 landless families from the region were declared eligible for distribution of Bhoodan lands but till date the revenue department has not been able to complete the settlement proceedings for the lands. As a result of this incompetence more than 90% of the eligible landless families have not received ownership rights on their land.