Odisha Government’s Decision on Tribal Land Transfer Sparks Controversy and Protests
the Odisha government has decided to withhold its recent decision, made during a Cabinet meeting on November 14, regarding the transfer of tribal lands. The decision, initially intended to amend a law allowing scheduled tribe people (ST) to transfer their land to non-tribals in scheduled areas, has faced strong opposition, ultimately leading to its temporary suspension.
Revenue Minister Sudam Marndi took to his social media account X (formerly Twitter) to announce the development. “The proposed Amendment to Regulation-2 of 1956 discussed in the Cabinet meeting held on 14th November 2023, regarding the transfer of Tribal lands, has been withheld,” Marndi posted on X.
The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (by STs) Regulation, 1956, received approval from the Cabinet on November 14. The amendment aimed to allow ST individuals to transfer their land with written permission from the sub-collector for various purposes, including gifting, exchanging for public purposes, obtaining loans for agriculture, constructing residential houses, supporting higher education, self-employment, business, or establishing small-scale industries. This decision was prompted by the difficulties faced by educated youth belonging to ST communities, as highlighted in the official note.
However, the government’s move to amend the law sparked strong protests from Opposition parties and various social organizations, leading to the decision’s suspension. Opposition parties argue that the social security of tribal people is the responsibility of the state government and that the Cabinet’s decision puts this security at risk.
Earlier, the then Governor of Jharkhand, Droupadi Murmu, had refused to give approval to a similar bill, indicating the potential challenges and controversies surrounding such decisions.
Opposition parties, including the BJP, have issued warnings of statewide protests if the Cabinet decision regarding the transfer of tribal lands is not withdrawn. BJP MLA Nityananda Gond expressed concerns about the potential loss of tribal lands and accused the State government of attempting to provide tribal lands to contractors and land mafias.
PCC ST Morcha President Bhujabal Majhi echoed these sentiments, labeling it a conspiracy against the tribals by the ruling BJD. He emphasized the need to protect tribal lands from land mafias and contractors and warned of protests across the state if the Cabinet decision is not withdrawn.