Recommendations include amendment to existing land ceiling laws

The National Land Reforms Council, in its recommendations, has suggested the State government take time-bound action to survey ‘panchami’ land and distribute it to landless Dalits, according to P.V. Rajagopal, member, National Land Reforms Council.

Mr. Rajagopal, who was in the city as part of his visit to Tamil Nadu, told TheHindu on Monday that the State should resolve all the disputes regarding the alienation of panchami land, a term used to refer to land identified during British rule as meant for distribution to the ‘depressed classes’. Panchami land cannot be sold

He said a solution to this issue was eluding them for more than a century, as such plots of land had been occupied by government and other powerful people.

The other specific suggestions and recommendations include amendment of existing land ceiling laws to eliminate loopholes, minimisation of exemptions and the securing of more land for distribution among the landless poor. Recommendations include the repeal of the Government Order prohibiting the assignment of assigned wastelands to the poor in hill areas. Action is necessary to implement G.O. No: 432 (17-3-87), which provides for assignment of land in the name of women. The conditional clause with regard to the land entitlement given to the fishing community in the post-tsunami period should be removed and title deed should be handed over to the respective individuals, said Mr. Rajagopal.

He also said that the government should take appropriate action to prevent the conversion of Bhoodan (gift) land for industrial purposes. “Land rights are a critical social issue and the government’s inaction had resulted in a condition where castes at the bottom fight against each other leading to land struggles becoming caste wars,” he added.

Mr. Rajagopal, who was also the Supreme Court-instituted enquiry commissioner on bonded labour, said that the denial of land rights has resulted in migration, where the landless poor are pushed to bonded labour.