The indigenous people of Assam who have not got land patta (deeds) even after staying on the same plot for decades would be provided patta in the first phase, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said today. "The rest of the indigenous people would get land patta in the subsequent phases," said the Chief Minister presiding over a meeting here with the Chairman of the Committee on Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People Hari Sankar Brahma and its other members. Without protecting the land rights of indigenous people their language, culture and literature cannot be protected, Sonowal said the State Government is committed to safeguard the interest of the people of the land and hence steps like initiating reforms in Land laws have been taken in earnest. The government will act on the recommendations of the Committee that has been formed for the first time to ensure land rights of the indigenous population, he added. The recommendations for reforming the Land laws of 1886, safeguarding the interest of the indigenous people while selling or buying land. The Chief Minister also directed the Revenue Department to streamline the classification process of land removing all discrepancies. The Committee on Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People constituted under the chairmanship of Hari Sankar Brahma has already carried out discussions with various stakeholders like district Deputy Commissioners, Moujadars (local revenue collectors), Gaon Burhas (village headmen), MLAs for holistic protection of the indigenous population of the state. The report of the Committee to be prepared after visiting all 32 districts is scheduled to be handed over to the Chief Minister in the first week of June next. During the meeting, Brahma who was former Chief Election Commissioner said an extensive land survey needs to be carried out in the state as there is no such survey conducted since 1946. He was also of the opinion that Deputy Commissioners must also be sensitised about safeguarding the rights of indigenous people during buying and selling of land and the indigenous people must be made aware of their rights regarding land ownership. The meeting also discussed issues like transferring of agricultural lands to non agricultural type, forming a task force for protecting land rights of indigenous population, allotment of non-ceiling land to landless indigenous people.
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