Friday, October 28, 2011

News Article: Land Reforms Council Meet Deferred by a Month

PTI | New Delhi | Oct 23, 2011
The first meeting of the National Council for Land Reforms, scheduled to be held this month-end, has been put off at least by a month till Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concludes his three foreign trips next month.

The meeting is expected to be held after Prime Minister comes back from his three foreign trips, a top Government official told PTI.

Singh's visit to France is slated between November 2 and 5 and to Maldives from November 9 to 12. He will also visit Indonesia and Singapore from November 18 to 20.

The Government had earlier told members of the National Land Reform Council that a meeting of the council will held this month-end to consider the Land Reform Policy in a bid to alleviate poverty and inequality.

The Government has reviewed 300 recommendations received in October 2009 and had come out with a 20-point land reform agenda and it is expected to be on the table for discussion at the council meeting when it is held.

The discussion is expected to focus on how land is to be reallocated to the landless poor families and how proper entitlement will be ensured.

The challenge of the National Land Reform Council, a 16-member body with 6 members from the civil society, 9 Chief Ministers and chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will be to press the state governments to respond.

Monday, October 17, 2011

News Article: Prime Minister to meet chief ministers on land reforms

Sunday, October 16, 2011, 17:35 [IST]

Agartala, Oct 16: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet 10 Chief Ministers in this month to take a final note to deal efficiently with agrarian and land reforms. Under the charimanship of the Prime Minister, a National Council for Land Reforms (NCLR) had been formed earlier this year with chief minister of ten states.

Chief Ministers from West Bengal, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Rajathan, Orrisa, Maharastra, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh are expected to meet prime minister to disscuss the matter.

A official said that, "Central ministers of rural development, agriculture, environment and forest, Panchayati Raj and tribal affairs are also members of the council." The scheduled meeting would openly discusse on possible action plan and suitable measure to tackle the problems of the land acquisition, land reforms, agricultural and farmer's vital problems across the country, official added. The discussion will be crucial in view of the Central government's move to amend the contentious land acquisition act.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News Article: National panel will seek to check diversion of tribal lands

TNN Oct 6, 2011, 12.32AM IST

NEW DELHI: The National Council for Land Reforms will meet on October 28 to give a thrust to moves to check the diversion of land in tribal areas to private companies, and launch schemes to ensure that every landless person has at least the land to build a house.

The council, chaired by the prime minister, will take a close look at consolidating the laws governing land records and benami transactions to plug violation of ceiling laws.

A key agenda drawn by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh will be to nudge the states to abide by the Supreme Court's Samata judgment of July 1997 banning transfer of land and mining leases to non-tribals in Schedule V areas: an issue which has huge implications for industries in tribal pockets. Sources said the Centre was likely to insist on implementation of the judgment in "letter and spirit".

The council was formed in October 2008 in the wake of a "jal, jungle, zameen" march to the Capital by tribals and others protesting against the usurpation of their land and other resources by outsiders. That the body which comprises 10 chief ministers has finally been activated has to do with the recognition of land as the source of problems plaguing the hinterland and alienation of tribal land due to usurpation by powerful individuals and industrialists, all contributing to the growing menace of naxalism.

The sudden interest in land may be academic, it being a state subject and an intractable political and social issue. However, the council may help renew the focus on land management, especially among tribals. The coming meeting may look to bring about convergence between Centre and states to ensure that policy guidelines do not fall prey to jurisdictional issues.

The Centre will also launch central schemes for homestead rights for homeless rural poor, survey of bhoodan lands, reconciliation of forest and revenue land records, establishment of land tribunals for fast disposal of appeals, survey of common property resources in villages and survey and settlement operations in tribal sub-plan areas.

It will also seek recognition of gram sabhas as competent authority for transfer of tribal land by sale or lease, and for restoration of alienated tribunal lands and for maintenance of land records. Another demand for withdrawal of encroachment cases and minor forest offences may be raised.

Along with the council, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, eager to buy peace with protestors in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls, had also formed a committee to go into the issues of "state agrarian relations and unfinished task in land reforms".

Coming on the back of the urgency across political spectrum to amend the 1894 Land Acquisition Act, the initiative of the rural development ministry is interesting. While the new bill, now with Parliament's standing committee, seeks to ensure better price for farm land, it has drawn criticism from activists who see it as facilitating the sale of land when it should have discouraged it. The focus on land management and tribal land through the brainstorming in the national council will seek to right the perspective.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

News Article: Andhra Pradesh: Neta, Babu & Baba Nexus- A Deadly Combination?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Capt J Rama Rao's Blog

As reported in the Press, one Sri Rama Avadhuta Baba is understood to be facing several charges of land grabbing for construction of his Ashram in Cheruvu village, Gudlur Mandal in Prakasam Dt. The charges include encroachment of the Village Tank land, Assigned land, Forest land and also the land belonging to Railways, as the Ashram is located just adjacent to the Railway tracks.

Illegal Occupation of Village Common Lands 

 It is also reported that the land in Survey No 879 of Cheruvu village had been encroached by the God man and latter got a stay order from AP High Court, seeking exemption from recovery of land, as pucca buildings had been constructed on the land. This seems to go against the spirit of directions of Hon'ble Supreme Court, in its Order dated 28 th January 2011 In Civil Appeal No.1132/2011 @SLP(C) No.3109/2011

 It is understood that the District Administration appears to be helpless to initiate any action against the God man, before whom Top Politicians, so called VVIPs and Top Officials  are reported to be queuing up to fall on his feet and  because of pressures from high offices.


 The AP State Administration should act swiftly and decisively  to get the matter examined and to consider the eviction of illegal / unauthorized occupation of Tank land, Assigned land, Forest land and the Railway land of Cheruvu village used for construction of the Ashram, in accordance with the directions of Hon'ble Supreme Court, in its Order dated 28 th January 2011 In Civil  Appeal No.1132/2011 @SLP(C) No.3109/2011 and initiate penal action against the encroachers.

Equality before Law guaranteed under Fundamental Rights enshrined in The Constitution of India should not be made a mockery, by the deadly combination of Neta, Babu & Baba Nexus !

Controversial godmans ashram sees VIP rush 

Swamy Involved In Several Land Encroachment Cases


Ongole: Raising several eyebrows,top politicians and public representatives queued up to fall at the feet of a controversial baba at Chevuru village of Gudlur mandal in Prakasam district on Saturday.The lineup included BJP national chief Nitin Gadkari,PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi,former TTD chairman D K Adikesavulu Naidu,ministers in the state cabinet Kanna Lakshminarayana and K Jana Reddy,former Union minister T Subbarami Reddy,Rajya Sabha member Undavalli Aruna Kumar.The sudden turnout of the VIPs here drew national attention to the godman Sri Rama Avadhuta Baba.

Gadkari and Joshi were among many who touched the feet of the baba at a function held at the ashram.Ironically,many of the leaders who visited the ashram may have not been aware of the controversies that surround the swamy.The godman has been facing charges of land grabbing for the construction of his ashram at Chevuru for long.

The charges include encroachment of the village tank land,assigned land,forest land and also land belonging to the Railways as his ashram is located just adjacent to the railway tracks.

The railway authorities,who tried to take back their land,reportedly retreated after minister of state for railways K M Muniappa became a devotee of the swamy about a year ago.

According to sources,a divisional forest officer was abruptly shifted from Kandukur after he initiated criminal proceedings against the ashram authorities for encroachment of reserve forest land.

District rationalist association president and civil rights activist Narne Venkata Subbaiah had filed a civil case against the district administration for failing to take the revenue land and tank land back from the swamy.Stung by the cases,district collector Kantilal Dande sent a report to the chief commissioner land administration (CCLA) seeking his permission to take the Chevuru ashram back into government fold after finding that certain parts of the ashram were constructed on the encroached government lands.

While local tahsildar confirmed that the land in survey no.879 of Chevur village had been encroached by the swamy,the latter got a stay order from the high court seeking exemption from recovery of the land as they had constructed pucca buildings on it.

Curiously,local legislator and municipal minister Manugunta Maheedhar Reddy have also been fighting against the baba for long but failed to get the government land back.

The district administration,under pressure from high offices,has washed off its hands by simply issuing notices to the swamy to vacate the lands.Rights activist Venkata Subbaiah demanded that swamy should be arrested immediately on the charges of land grabbing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

News Article: Rajasthan takes lead in policy for common land

TNN Sep 30, 2011, 11.10AM IST

JAIPUR: After taking lead in helping the country draw up the Rigth to Information Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to have drafted a policy underlining the importance and the need to preserve and secure common land (commons) in rural areas.

The government has issued a series of orders to facilitate the process and aims to complete the demarcation of such land within the purview of the gram panchayats and under common use such as grazing lands, common ponds and their catchment areas, playgrounds. The state government has also issued orders facilitating the utilisation of MGNREGA funds for improving the productivity of common land and has issued operational guidelines.

According to M S Rathore, director of Centre of Environment and Development Studies, "The Rajasthan Common Land Policy is the second attempt of the state government at decentralisation. Earlier too, the state government framed its water policy which too aims at making the government act just as a facilitator while the common people get involved in its conservation and supply. Here too the government intends to act as a facilitator while involving communities in planning, regeneration and management of common land."

Rathore was speaking at a state-level orientation workshop on 'The Commons' at the officers' training institute to deliberate upon the policy development and consult a larger audience, including government officials, PRI representatives and members of NGOs on how these may be implemented effectively across the state. The workshop was organised by the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) along with the department of rural development and panchayati raj and presided over by minister Bharat Singh.

Common land is a crucial source of livelihood for rural households providing wide ranging contribution to the village economy from food, fodder, timber to farming system, animal husbandry, resource conservation and recharge of ground water. However, over the years loss due to encroachment has been taking place threatening its extent and health.

The Rajasthan Common Land Policy aims at giving the gram panchyats, gram sabhas and ward sabhas the responsibility of the management of the common land, making sure that the poorer sections of the community have special claims on produce from common land, involving NGOs, academic and research institutes for assisting village communities in management of such land and stopping privatisation of common land.

The workshop discussed the draft policy and the recent Supreme Court judgment on commons.

'Stop common land encroachers from contesting polls'
Jaipur: Bharat Singh, minister for rural development and panchayati raj, proposes to stop those encroaching on common land from contesting any kind of polls. The minister's made the remarks at a workshop on the Rajasthan Common Land Policy. He felt most encroachments of common land were done in nexus with politicians.

"Like there are rules that those having more than two children cannot contest polls the government should make a policy those encroaching common land will not allowed to contest any elections," Singh felt. His The remarks came close on observation that money, muscle and political power were the main reasons for the disappearance of common land. The minister said the proposal would be forwarded to the government for action.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

News Article: Rajasthan: Rajasthan readies draft policy on common land

JAIPUR, October 1, 2011

Sunny Sebastian

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An initiative to save the State's community land
Rajasthan has pioneered an initiative to save its community land by preparing a draft policy. The State is the first to bring out a “Common Land Policy” on the lines of the National Policy for Common Property Resource Lands (Common Lands), 2002.

The draft “Rajasthan Common Land Policy, 2010” was launched here by Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Minister Bharat Singh in the presence of eminent economist and Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth Sudarshan Iyengar, experts, activists and representatives from panchayati raj organizations. The event coincided with a workshop on “The Commons” jointly organized by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Foundation for Ecological Security (FES).

Mr. Bharat Singh said the State Government was serious about preserving and protecting the community lands also known by various other names such as “Sawai Chak”, “Gair mumkin zameen”, “Oran” and “bani”. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had mentioned the protection of the community land in the State's annual budget, he noted.

The State Government has already issued a series of orders to facilitate the process of demarcation of the lands within the purview of the Gram Panchayats under common use such as grazing lands, common ponds and their catchment areas and playgrounds. The Government has also issued orders facilitating the utilization of MGNREGS funds for improving the productivity of common lands.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and FES was signed on the occasion in the presence of Jagdeesh Rao, CEO, FES, on restoration and governance of natural resources in general and common lands and dependent rural livelihoods across Rajasthan in particular.

An open discussion in which government officials, District Collectors, Divisional Commissioners, CEOs of Zila Parishads, people's representatives from various governance levels such as Zila Pramukhs joined in, suggested that encroachers should be dealt with strictly. The Minister said he was even willing to consider a legislation which would bar people who have encroached upon common land from contesting the panchayat polls.

There was also consensus on making use of the job guarantee scheme, MGNREGS, for protecting the commons by constructing boundary walls and carrying out tree and grass plantation.

Both in his speech and later during the interaction with media, Mr. Singh did not hide his impression that the local political leadership was responsible for the encroachments which had taken place on the common lands. He expressed concern at the loss of common spaces and sought the cooperation of the elected representatives to check this. If needed fresh laws could be made to ensure the protection of the commons so vital for the rural communities, he said.

Prof. Iyengar spoke on the Gandhian emphasis towards collective action. The commons had a major role in preserving the fertility of the soil, he noted. For the sustenance of both agriculture and the agrarian lifestyle it was important that the common lands survived, he stated.

Prof. Rathore, who was a member of the policy drafting team, explained the significance of the policy and sought involvement of the people's representatives in checking the loopholes, if any. Supreme Court lawyer and environment activist Ritwick Datta presented an analysis of the landmark Supreme Court judgment against encroachment of common land.