The trustworthiness of the administration among tribal population is “very low” due to unresolved land issues that have led to escalation in Maoist menace, Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said here on Saturday.

Issues such as forcible eviction of people for land acquisition for projects, unsettled rehabilitation packages, degradation and unproductivity of land given to the poor have aggravated the Maoists’ menace in the Central and Eastern parts of India, Mr. Ramesh said.

“Today, the trust deficit between the tribals and the administration has reached to an extent in which our credibility is very very low,” Mr. Ramesh said while addressing an international conference on ‘Para-legal models to resolve land problems of the poor and tribals in India’ at the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) here.

“To my experience and to my mind, the continuous excretion of Maoist ideology on tribals is the ability of the Maoists to dispense instant justice when it comes to land-related issues. It is the continuous insensitivity of the government administration on land issues that has resulted into discontent,” Mr. Ramesh said.

More than 30 million people, mostly tribals, have been displaced in the past 50 years in the Central and Eastern regions in the name of developmental projects, he said.

“It is complete failure of relocation and rehabilitation in Central and Eastern India which is particularly responsible for accentuating the Maoist problems,” Mr. Ramesh opined.

Pointing out that the mining industry in the country does not pay heed to environmental issues, Mr. Ramesh said this apathy has resulted into “degradation and devastation” of large areas of land which has affected the livelihood of people and tribals.

Ridiculing the allocation of lands, Mr. Ramesh said most of the land given to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is useless as it is either barren or located on hilltops or in the rocky terrains.

The major task to resolve tribal issues related to land is to increase awareness among people regarding their legal entitlement, besides modernisation of land records, he said.

“We will be taking the step forward in creating such an arm (for awareness). I would like to focus on Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. This is a heartland as far as the Maoists are concerned. We will take up the land issues in these states in the first phase. We must demonstrate to the poor tribal communities that here is an administration that can sort out problems,” Mr. Ramesh said.

He said the Rural Development Ministry will take the help of rural development institutes like NALSAR and other law universities in the country to provide para-legal services to the people in 60 districts that the union government has identified as Maoist-affected districts in the country.