Sunday, November 14, 2010

[ZESTCaste] After 28 yrs, hopes revive for Dalits in Banaskantha with order for re-survey

After 28 yrs, hopes revive for Dalits in Banaskantha with order for re-survey

Parimal Dabhi Posted online: Sun Nov 14 2010, 03:44 hrs
Ahmedabad : Revenue authorities order 're-survey' of 6,574 acres of
land allocated to Dalits in 1982 but which is still illegally occupied
In a significant development in the implementation of Agricultural
Land Ceiling Act (ALC Act) in Gujarat, revenue authorities in
Banaskantha district have ordered "re-survey (re-measure)" of 6,574
acres of land in the district that was allocated to landless Dalits 28
years ago under the Act but is still not under their possession.

Incidentally, the land allegedly illegally occupied all these years
records bumper production of castor.

Banaskantha district collector R J Patel gave verbal orders at a
public function in Vav town of the district earlier this week. The
function was jointly organised by the district collectorate and an
Ahmedabad-based organisation, Council for Social Justice (CSJ), which
has been running a movement to get the possession of this land for
Dalits in Banaskantha.

District SP Harishchandra Patel, concerned revenue officers and social
activist Indukumar Jani were also present at the function.

Secretary of CSJ, Valjibhai Patel, said, "Under the provisions of the
ALC Act, this land was allocated for 1,713 Dalit families in 1982.
However, it remained on paper since authorities did not follow up the
procedure. All these years, it was used illegally by the upper-caste
people of the region."

Patel said that after the official allocation of the land in 1982,
certain statutory procedure is required to be followed for giving
possession of the same to the allottee.

"However, due to criminal negligence on the part of various sections
of the district revenue department like the office of the district
land records inspector (DLRI) and the mamlatdar to follow the ALC Act
provisions, physical possession of the land has not been given to
Dalits to date," Patel added. According to the CSJ secretary, after
allocation orders, the offices of mamlatdar and DLRI have to carry out
a physical survey (measurement) of the lands to earmark each plot to
be given to the allottee. And without this, possession cannot be

After sustained efforts by CSJ, district revenue authorities have now
ordered to initiate the process of surveying of the 6,574 acres of
land that falls mostly in nine talukas; Vav, Tharad, Kankrej, Deodar,
Palanpur, Danta, Dantiwada, Deesa and Vadgam.

When contacted, the district collector said, "I have given orders to
re-survey these lands so that possession can be given to those
families who have not been given the same so far." The officer,
however, said possession of only around 25 per cent of the 6,574 acres
of land have not been given to the allottees.

The collector said a survey was carried out earlier but since they do
not have records to prove the same, a re-survey has been ordered to be
completed in three months.

The castor booty

If Council for Social Justice is to be believed, a significant portion
of the castor production in Banaskantha district is being done on the
land illegally occupied mostly by upper-caste farmers. Banaskantha is
known for its castor production. According to Raju Solnaki, who is
associated with CSJ, "Seventy percent of the total castor production
in world is being done by India. And in India, around 70 per cent
castor is produced by Gujarat more than half of which is being
produced in Banaskantha. The nine talukas in which the survey
(measurement) has been ordered are significant castor producers."


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