Bid to end tribal land disputes

KORAPUT: Officials have taken steps to settle disputes over tribal land in Koraput district. To begin with, they have registered about 4,200 cases of tribal land measuring 5,800 acres, reportedly being occupied by non-tribals.

The state government had chalked out an action plan to settle the land disputes in the district two months ago, when tribal unrest over loss of tribal land to non-tribals in Maoist-dominated Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks was at its peak.

According to the plan, all cases involving transfer of tribal land to non-tribals under Orissa Schedule Area Transfer of Immovable Property (OSATIP) Regulations (1956), were examined and genuineness of such transactions made till September 7, 2005 verified. It also includes listing of registered sale deeds where tribal land is transferred to non-tribals, preparation of pattas involving 6,942 acres of land under the Recognition of Forest Right Act (2006), officials said.

"The OSATIP regulation were amended in 2000. According to it, those who have purchased tribal lands are required to file a declaration in support of their claim over the tribal land they have purchased. But it was not implemented in Koraput. People illegally purchased and occupied tribal lands for which the problem has now aroused," sub-collector (Koraput) Rajesh Patil said.

Patil said 5,800 acres of tribal land has been spotted in Koraput sub-division, which consists of nine blocks, including Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon, out of the 14 blocks of the district. Apart from suo moto examination of documents, announcement was made over radio and a special format was circulated through anganwadi workers in rural areas through which the tribals, those who had any land related problems were urged to apply. "The settlement of cases will start during the second half of September. The land will be returned to the original patta holders," Patil said.

A large number of people in Koraput sub-division live in villages that have no house site pattas as the land is unsettled and identified as Grama Kantha Prambok. In a special drive, house site pattas will be given for basti land as per norms in some villages in the first phase. "Pattas will also be provided to tribals cultivating on government revenue land for long," he said.