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Compensation for Land Acquisition of Tribals: the promise of law and a lawyer's perspective of the reality

In association with ATMABODH

Speaker: Mr Anoop Kumar Mehta
Chair: Dr Gerd Oberleitner, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
June 2004

Abstract

Under British rule, the alienation of land of tribals was recognised as exploitative and destructive of their culture and life. This led to enactment of statutes barring sale of immovable property of tribals without the sanction of Commissioner. Later, the land holdings of tribal communities were also protected under the Constitution of India, 1950. However, there are exceptions to the above which enable the state to acquire land for public purposes. These exceptions have led to acquisition of thousands of acres of land for construction of heavy industries, establishing coal-mines, industrial areas, urban housing colonies, irrigation projects, etc. The result has been what can fairly be described as a tragedy of the tribals. The loss of the land has deprived them of an essential part of their identity and left them struggling with alien institutions. The tribals have been displaced. They have lost their home, habitat and culture and also their social fabric, which has broken down. Development has brought an influx of outsiders, alien cultures and inter-cultural tensions. Their plight calls out for urgent action.

Anoop Kumar Mehta is a practising Advocate in Jharkhand High Court, India. He was the Standing Counsel for the State Government of Jharkhand and has been the Secretary of the Legal Aid Committee of the Ranchi Bench of Patna High Court (the predecessor court of the Jharkhand High Court). Mr Mehta is author of University Laws of Jharkhand.

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