Campaign for land rights brings together Dalits, tribals in Gujarat capital

Gandhinagar: Around 10,000 landless people comprising mostly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes staged protest demonstrations on Monday against the state government for not implementing various laws relating to land rights for them.

“About 28 different organizations from the Dalit and tribal communities from Gujarat have joined hands in this effort to stake their claim on land ownership under the aegis of Jamin Adhikar Zumbesh (JAZ) (Land Rights Campaign),” said Govabhai Rathod, convenor of the campaign.

He told IANS, “The Gujarat government is supposed to grant us land rights according to various laws, but it has been shying away from implementing.”

Rathod cited a 2005 notification allowing allotment of government wasteland to the corporates for contract farming. Under this, 27,000 hectares of land has been given out to 55 industrialists from the total 45 lakh hectares of such land earmarked for the purpose, according to him.

“But the government does not show similar interest in implementing the provisions of Forest Rights Act and Land Ceiling Act,” Rathod said.

According to him and other activist Jayanti Makadia, who was in the demonstrations, more than 90,000 families from 33 districts in the State have applied for land under the Land Ceiling Act but there has been no response from the government.

Similarly, over 25,000 applications were pending for land for housing below poverty line families, while 2,000 applications from Dalit for crematorium ground were pending, they said.

“Under the FRA rules 2006, 1,82,860 individuals have claimed land ownership and 7,224 community land ownership. But out of that, only 81,188 individuals and 3516 group claims have been granted by the government. Even in this, the land area allotted is not as per the Act. We demand that all the claims be reviewed in an urgent manner,” said Jayanti Makadia, a tribal activist.

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