Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After 48 hours, the Odisha government has withheld the decision taken in the Cabinet meeting held on November 14 regarding the transfer of tribal lands.

Revenue Minister Sudam Marndi informed about the development on his social media account X (earlier known as Twitter).

 “The proposed Amendment to Regulation-2 of 1956 discussed in the Cabinet meeting held on 14th November 2023, regarding transfer of Tribal lands has been withhold,” Marndi posted on X.

Earlier on November 14, the Odisha Cabinet had decided to amend a law allowing the scheduled tribe people (ST) to transfer their land to non-tribals in scheduled areas with a written permission from the sub-collector.

The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (by STs) Regulation, 1956 had got a cabinet nod for this purpose.

It was decided in the cabinet meeting that ST person can gift, exchange for public purposes or obtain a loan by mortgaging a plot of land in a public financial institution for agriculture, construction of  residential house, higher studies of children, self-employment, business or establishment of small-scale industries or transfer it in favour of a person not belonging to ST community for these purposes.

As per the official note, the educated youth belonging to ST communities were facing many difficulties. Realising this problem and based on the recommendations of the Scheduled Tribes Advisory Council, the amendments were made.

However, the decision was eventually withheld following strong protests against it by the Opposition parties and several social organisations.

As per the opposition parties, the social security of the tribal people is the responsibility of the state government. However, the Cabinet decision about the transfer of tribal lands to the non-tribals will put their social security in jeopardy.

Earlier, the then Governor of Jharkhand Droupadi Murmu had refused to give her approval to such a bill.

The Opposition parties have warned to stage protests across the State in the coming days if the Cabinet decision regarding the transfer of tribal lands is not withdrawn.

“The tribals will lose their lands if the new law will be implemented. Hence it should be withheld. It will affect their life and livelihoods. The lands of the tribals should be safe and secure. The State government was trying to provide the lands of the tribals to the contractors and land mafias. Earlier many illegal transactions have been made in this regard and now they were trying to legalise the process. We and many tribal communities are strongly protesting against the cabinet decision,” said BJP MLA Nityananda Gond.

“It’s a conspiracy against the tribals and we will not allow its approval and implementation. We will stage protests across the State if the decision is not withdrawn. They are trying to cheat the tribals ahead of the 2024 General Election. However, people came to know about their conspiracy,” he added.

“Earlier, we had given a proposal to sanction loans to the tribals for making houses and industries with the government remaining as guarantor. The provision is in existence in other States. However, the government didn’t accept our proposal and took a new decision. Nothing about it has been discussed in the Tribes Advisory Council meeting earlier. If the decision is implemented, land mafias and contractors will take away the lands of the tribals. It’s a conspiracy against the tribals by BJD. We will stage protests across the State if the cabinet decision is not withdrawn,” said PCC ST Morcha President Bhujabal Majhi.