Human Rights Forum demands withdrawal of state order to pool land

Visakhapatnam: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) on Friday demanded that the government withdraw an order to pool 6,116.50 acres of land in 10 mandals abutting the city.

HRF officials said in the name of providing housing to the poor the government is acquiring land that belongs to the poor. This would deprive the poor and the marginalized people of their livelihood, HRF said. This is unacceptable, it said, and demanded that the government desist from conducting the public hearings already underway to take over this land.

Among the land that is to be acquired under the land pool scheme 2,552.33 acres is assigned land and 2,343.98 acres occupied land. The government order plans to give 900 square yards to those who hold assigned lands, 450 square yards to those in possession of government land for over 10 years, and 250 square yards to those in possession of the land for over five years. The current land-holders are poor and Dalits whom the government now wants to dispossess, the forum said.

HRF officials said, “While the scheme appears pro-poor, in reality, it only undermines their means of survival. The land is being tilled by poor and predominantly small, marginal farmers, most of whom are Dalits. How are they to survive if this land is taken from them and a small portion given to them in return?”

They said most of the land is already in the possession of the rich and some political leaders have also grabbed some land. Two SITs are looking into such illegalities but to no avail, they said.

The officials were of the opinion that if the government wanted to acquire land for housing and hand them over to the poor, it would do well to do so under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. But here, too, it would be proper and just to leave the land on which the poor people rely on for their livelihood and instead take over land that is being encroached upon by the rich and powerful, the officials said.

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