NGO For Rural Development - Sruti

New notification promises land for landless tribalsOne of the major issues faced by Katkaris was landlessness which makes them unable to grow food for their families, gives a sense of insecurity of not having own house and a fear of getting displaced anytime forcefully by the state. Ownership of land is of immense importance; land becomes an asset for the family and helps them to invest on their needs, it gives a person a sense of dignity and is a source of identity. Because of their landlessness they used to work as bonded labour and were subjected to exploitation.

Landlessness nowadays doesn’t get a place in the agenda or manifesto of the government, civil societies, NGOs and political parties, Sarvahara Jan Andolan has given priority to the issue of landlessness and has kept fighting for land rights. The struggle started with mobilizing people on the issue of dali lands in the year 1991 along with other sanghatans in Konkan region under the broader banner of Shoshit Jan Andolan, which pressurized the government to undertake surveys, to implement the resolution that the land would be restored to the tribals.

They worked very cautiously to counter the frauds who were trying to illegally encroach the lands for corporate benefits. Sarvahara Jan Andolan also took up issues of correction of land records and land titles and was successful in solving it.Due to the work of the sangathan and many other organizations working on the same line in Konkan region and the continued efforts, the Governor of the state of Maharashtra did issue a notification* to Revenue and Forest Department on Maharashtra Tenancy and agricultural lands act. The Governor, Mr. Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, who is also known as patron of tribals did observe and realize the unwillingness of bureaucratic and parliamentary machinery to give importance to the issue of landlessness issued this notification on 4th of January 2017. This notification will enable the landless tribals, dalits and others to have the ownership of the private lands that they had been residing on. Around 1.25 lakh Katkari families in Raigarh district and 4 lakh all over Maharashtra will benefit from this Notification.Recognizing the active role of Sarvahara Jan Andolan for influencing the Governor to issue this notification, the concerned department has requested Sangathan to help them in identifying the landless families towards effective implementation of the notification . This is a victory for the people of the sangatan and its members from katkari tribe. This notification is a ray of hope to believe that there is always a possibility of dialogue between the authorities and the people in movement. It also sets an example that dialogue on an issue is the crucial way to find out solutions. According to Ulka Mahajan, working with Sarvahara Jan Andolan and a senior SRUTI fellow, there is still a lot of scope to work for a better Act as this notification is fractionally serving the purpose. As the struggle intensifies, all remaining issues will also be addressed. This notification will also be useful for people working on land issues in other states as well where they can replicate this notification to intervene and address the issue of landlessness.