Dispur, June 18, 2019:
As the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) nears its date of publication (July 31), the Assam State Home and Political Department in its observation in the ‘Land Policy 2019’ for the indigenous people of Assam, has asked the State Revenue Department to first ensure the definition of the term ‘indigenous’. Moreover, with the passage of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the question of land rights is sure to raise its head sooner or later.
It has further asked the Department to see if the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 can be taken up as the base for determining the definition of the term.
After drafting the ‘Assam Land Policy-2019’, the Revenue department had forwarded it to 11 other departments of the State government for their respective views including ‘inclusion to’ or ‘ommissions from’ the proposed land policy.
Among the departments whose opinions are being sought are the Home & Political, Law, Personnel, Agriculture, Forest, Finance, Industry, Guwahati Development, and Urban Development.
However, if the departments do not respond within the stipulated deadline with their respective “additions to” or “deletions of” points from the draft then it would be taken for granted that the departments have given their consent to the draft land policy.
Meanwhile, almost 50 per cent of the 11 departments have already replied to the draft with their views over the draft land policy.
The Revenue Department expects that the remaining departments would also forward their view at the earliest. Sources, informed that considering the wide parameters of the land policy including legal, it is natural that some departments are taking some extra time for offering their suggestions.
The draft ‘Land Policy-2019’ has been prepared by two officials of the Revenue and Disaster Management department in consultation with senior officials of that department and the Chief Minister’s Office.
The draft report is based on the recommendations of the ‘Committee for Protection of Land Rights of the Indigenous People of Assam’ headed by former Chief Election Commissioner Hari Shankar Brahma, the ‘Land Policy of 1989’ and the draft ‘Land Policy of 2016’.
The Brahma Committee was constituted on February 6, 2017, by an order issued by the Governor of Assam. It submitted the report to the State Government on January 18, 2018.
Considering the lengthy process, it is expected that the new land policy will be approved by the State government towards the end of 2019.
It may be mentioned that the final draft NRC will be published on July 31.
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