While submitting an Action Taken Report (ATR) on current scenario on implementation of Gujarat Agriculture Land Ceiling (ALC) Act in the state related to allocation of surplus land to landless poor farmers since 1961 when the Act came into force, the revenue department has informed Gujarat High Court (HC) that the task ‘may be nearly impossible’.
Revenue department has said this in its Action Taken Report submitted before the court in connection with a petition that has alleged that allocation of surplus land under the Act to thousands of landless poor farmers remains only on paper while defeating the purpose of the legislation.
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In his petition, petitioner Jignesh Mevani has sought the court’s directions to the revenue authorities to present actual scenario of land allotment under the provisions of the ALC Act since 1961 when the Act came into force in Gujarat. The petitioner has produced voluminous government records while alleging that thousands of acres, declared surplus under the ALC Act, have not been given to landless Dalit and tribal farmers.
As per government records, 1,63,808 acres have been allotted to 37,198 landless farmers in Gujarat in the last 55 years.
However, Mevani has disputed these figures, alleging that those were misleading and thousands of people are yet to get physical possession of the land since statutory provisions like measuring the land have not been fulfilled, and the allocation has remained only on paper, and the official claims on the allocation are required to be verified. He has also claimed in the petition that many surplus land pieces allocated ‘on paper’ actually remain encroached upon.
Mevani has also claimed that 59,012 acres which have been declared surplus still remain to be allocated to the landless.
Acting on Mevani’s petition, a division bench of HC had earlier directed the revenue department to form a nodal committee of its officers to ascertain the actual scenario related to the implementation of ALC Act in Gujarat.
And accordingly, the revenue department had in January appointed three deputy secretary rank officers as nodal officers to work in co-ordination with concerned collectorates and ascertain the actual scenario of the allocation of surplus land to landless farmers in Gujarat under the ALC Act.
The committee is supposed to give its Action Taken Report before the court from time-to-time during the pendency of the petition.
In its first Action Take Report submitted before the court recently, a copy of which is available with The Indian Express, the three nominated revenue officers have given details on land allocated to landless farmers in districts like Ahmedabad, Banaskantha, Mehsana, Bharuch, Navsari, Surat, Tapi, Valsad, Surendranagar, Amreli and Junagadh.
Interestingly, the report admits that in many cases of allocated land, the grantee does not possess the land because it has been encroached upon or the allocations stand challenged in courts for years.
In the later part of the report, the committee members have mentioned several technical issues related to the land allotments under the ALC Act and expressed their ‘near inability’ to produce the exact scenario of ALC Act implementation in Gujarat since 1961.
“…it is felt that to furnish the details sought by the petitioner…right from the allotment of lands to the grant of possessions in the entire State and that is right from the dates of announcements of schemes by the government till today may be very difficult and may take huge amount of time and perhaps it may be nearly impossible even after putting in much efforts.”
With this reasoning, the committee members have also prayed to dispose the petition with an assurance that they may look into a particular case if details with substantiation were submitted to it.
Bill awaits Prez nod.It is noteworthy that the Gujarat government has passed a bill in the Assembly seeking to amend the ALC Act. The legislation was originally meant for bringing in equality by giving surplus land to the landless, but the proposed amendments to the Act have opened the surplus land to the industry also. The amendment bill has been sent to the President for his approval.
It is noteworthy that the Gujarat government has passed a bill in the Assembly seeking to amend the ALC Act. The legislation was originally meant for bringing in equality by giving surplus land to the landless, but the proposed amendments to the Act have opened the surplus land to the industry also. The amendment bill has been sent to the President for his approval.