January 12, 2018 12:58:07 am
Under pressure from Opposition Congress, activists, tribal groups and Adivasi leaders from within the BJP, the Chhattisgarh government on Thursday was forced to beat a retreat on its proposed amendment to the Land Revenue Code passed by the Vidhan Sabha in December.
The amendment to Section 165 of the Bill had attempted to allow tribal land to be sold based on individual consent and had fuelled controversy.
Senior BJP sources told The Indian Express that the government was forced into a corner with the consensus of opinion against the bill, and with elections towards the end of the year, the could not afford to anger the tribal population in the state.
The decision to revoke the proposed amendment came after a meeting of the state cabinet on Thursday afternoon.
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The proposed amendment was a change from the stated position under the state’s Land Code Bill that no land belonging to tribals could be bought and sold.
And while sale and purchase of land does happen, it occurs under central laws such as the Land Acquisition Act that provides checks and balances.
Alok Shukla, president of the Chhattisgarh Banchao Andolan, had said that any land transaction under central laws needs “consent from gram sabhas”. “The idea is that any selling of land affects not only the immediate seller but also the village,” he said. He added that while coercion into selling land was a real possibility under the proposed amendment, it would bypass requirements of social impact assessment and compensation.
The Congress has said the withdrawal of the bill was due to the pressure it put on the state government, with MLAs led by Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel and Leader of Opposition T S Singhdeo meeting Governor Balramji Dass Tandon on Wednesday and urging him not to sign the bill.
The state BJP also released a statement saying the withdrawal of the amendment shows how the government was sensitive to the cause and pride of Adivasis in the state.
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