Under attack from all quarters over the proposed amendments to the tribal tenancy Acts, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is now trying to set the record straight through his block-level programmes, and insists that “the original intent behind the two Acts is not being tinkered with”. The CM is using these events to tell panchayats that the proposed amendments will actually empower them.
“The programme was designed to focus on ground-level panchayat workers and, specifically, village women, to participate in the development initiative. But, now that questions are being raised, the CM and the government have to clarify. He was quite specific about it in Dumka. People having apprehensions at the village level are raising these questions at such events. Of course, the government will clarify,” said a CMO source.
The state government had proposed an amendment in the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA) and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA) through an ordinance in July. The amendments will allow the government to take over tribal land for development purposes. They also provide for a tribal to permit commercial use of his land, something that was prohibited so far. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has opposed the proposed move and requested the President to deny assent to the ordinance.
In Palamu Thursday, while Das did not specifically mention the CNTA and the SPTA, he said his government was committed to providing “real powers” to the panchayats to decide and implement the development agenda. He was present at the event with ministers and top officials, including the chief secretary.
At one such programme in Dumka Wednesday, he said: “The original intent behind the two Acts is not being tinkered with. Nobody can change these laws.” Earlier, he spoke about the issue in Hazaribagh too.
The Opposition, however, has refused to buy the government’s argument. JMM acting chief Hemant Soren said: “This statement (that nobody can take away tribal land) was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also in the run-up to the polls. These are big lies. And the real truth is that the government has already made the move to amend the CNTA and SPTA.”