Amid criticism, Odisha for reconsideration of decision allowing transfer of ST land to non-tribals

Amid criticism, Odisha for reconsideration of decision allowing transfer of ST land to non-tribals

Bhubaneswar, Nov 24 (PTI) Faced with criticism of the move to allow transfer of land belonging to ST people to non-tribals, the Odisha government on Friday informed the Assembly that it has sought reconsideration of the recommendations based on which the decision was taken.

The Odisha Cabinet had on November 14 decided to amend a law to allow the Scheduled Tribe people to sell their land to non-tribals in scheduled areas, with permission from the state government. However, the decision was put on hold three days later.

Opposition parties have created a ruckus in the assembly demanding that the decision on Wednesday and Thursday, taken following recommendations from the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC), be withdrawn.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Niranjan Pujari informed the Assembly that a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday urged the TAC to reconsider its earlier decision of allowing the ST people to transfer their land to non-tribals.

'Based on the recommendation of the TAC’s meeting on July 11, 2023, the state Cabinet had approved a proposal to amend the Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immoveable Property (By Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956,' Pujari informed the House.

Both the BJP and Congress members demanded that the state government totally withdraw its November 14 decision instead of referring it to the TAC for reconsideration.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingha Mishra said, 'The state Cabinet itself could have withdrawn such a decision. But things became further suspicious as it recommended the TAC to reconsider its decision.' BJP Chief Whip Mohan Majhi said, 'Friday’s Cabinet decision indicated that the state government has been forced to eat its own words. The actual intention of the state government is now exposed. They were working against the interest of tribals and now put in a fix.' BJP MLA Nityananda Gond alleged that the state government was lying in the name of the TAC.

'I am a member of the TAC and the issue of tribal land transfer to non-tribals was never discussed in the meeting. Now, the government was claiming that it had decided to amend the law allowing transfer of ST land to non-tribals,' Gond said in the Assembly challenging the state government to prove him wrong.

Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi, however, said that the state cabinet had taken the decision based on the recommendation of TAC at its meeting on June 28, 2018.

Those recommendations were again placed at the meeting held on July 11, 2023, he said.

In 2002, after some amendments were made to the regulation concerned, ST-category citizens were allowed to transfer immovable property only to tribals. Due to this provision, many people belonging to the community were facing difficulties.

Before 2002, no land belonging to a member of the ST community was sellable. PTI AAM NN

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