A former member of the Planning Commission, B.N. Yugandhar, has regretted that land alienation programme in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and some other States was worse than ever before as the governments were inducing Scheduled Castes and Tribes to give up their holdings for peaceful settlements.

The governments were negotiating with the SCs and STs in a bid to see there were no disputes in the acquisition, Mr. Yugandhar told a workshop on agriculture in tribal areas at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) on Friday.

He said there were several laws governing land alienation but the governments suppressed them all to deny to the owners their rights. For instance, the 1/70 legislation in scheduled areas which prevents transfer of land from tribal to non-tribals was observed in breach. Similarly, 50 per cent of assigned lands of SCs were transferred to non-poor though the pattas prohibited the transactions.

‘Turbulent geography’

He described tribal areas as highly disturbed and turbulent geography of India where mining, irrigation and power projects were implemented without fulfilling promises made to locals. Fifty per cent of discontent will be resolved in scheduled areas if the land question was settled.

Another former Planning Commission member Ch. Hanumantha Rao expected a lot of improvement in the livelihood of tribals if the agricultural production in scheduled areas touched the average output of the country.

Otherwise, the production in these areas was less than one-third of the country’s agricultural output. He deplored poor public investment for agriculture and called for proper training to women in tribal areas.

E. Revathi, an economist at CESS who presented the State picture, said there were 35 tribal groups and their population was 5.9 per cent of the total ST population in the country.