Saturday, November 1, 2014

No Govt Step Yet on SC Order

By Express News Service
Published: 27th October 2014

BALANGIR: Though the Supreme Court (SC) had directed all the State Governments to formulate a policy for eviction of unauthorised occupation of common land in 2011, the Odisha Government is yet to work on the directive.

Sources said the Government land like Gochar (grazing land), Jalchar (water sources), Patra jungle (minor forest), Smasan (cremation ground), Anabadi (unused land) and Dera Ghar  (meant for construction of rest house) are encroached by influential people in most of villages and towns in the district.

As per the District Statistical Hand Book published in 2009, the district had 56,239 hectare (ha) of forest cover, 52,419 ha to be used for non-agricultural purposes, 16,071 ha of barren and non-cultivable land, 40,026 ha of permanent pasture and grazing land, 1162 ha of land for miscellaneous use and 22932 ha of cultivable waste land. Similarly, as per Patna State Settlement in 1936, there were 9087 water harvesting structures in the district.

Village common land was used for public utility purposes including playground, water bodies, grazing of cattle and cremation since long. Gradually, this type of land was encroached by influential people depriving villagers of community use.

Similarly, in industrial areas, water bodies and forest cover have declined drastically. The heavily silted small ponds having limited water holding capacity have mostly disappeared. During land settlement, influential people in the villages managed to record such land in their favour.

A study conducted by Rastra Bharati, a social organisation working on land issues, in 20 villages of Bangomunda and Turekela blocks in 2013-14 revealed that the size and productivity of common land have declined by 75-80 per cent during the last 50 years.

According to environment experts, destruction of traditional water harvesting systems has impacted the ground water recharge process leading to water shortage and drought in the district. Balangir region is prone to drought than any other natural calamity. Between 1965 and 2014, it was under the grip of drought on 14 occasions.

Patnagarh town used to have around 120 water bodies and almost all nearby villages had their own water bodies. But now, those have disappeared. Similarly, Narayan Sagar, a large water body in Loisingha, which was constructed over 133 acres of land by the then zamindar Narayan Singh Roy in 1857, has vanished.
When contacted, Collector M Muthukumar said he had not received any instruction from the State Government on SC’s directives. After getting the same, he will act as per the guidelines, the Collector added.

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