Adibasi Mahasangha urges Odisha govt to distribute land retained by Jeysco among poor adibasis, dalits

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Jeypore Sugar Company(Jeysco), established in the year 1936 at Rayagada town of the erstwhile Koraput district, has become defunct since 1994 according to the reports of Factories & Boilers deptt, District Labour Office, Regional Pollution Control Board. As per the report of the Govt Revenue Officer-cum-Tahsildar, Jeysco should return 506.69 acres of ceiling surplus land to the state govt for fruitful use. But with some or other plea, it has moved to the apex court to stall the transfer of such huge amount of land to govt’s record.

Entire Rayagada district comes under Schedule-V and land is a very sensitive issue in this tribal district. Adibasi leaders under the banner of Adibasi Mahasangha have submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Odisha asking for distribution of the land retained by Jeysco among the poor adibasis and dalits or otherwise they would be compelled to forcefully take possession of the same land into their control.

The govt is almost forcing the tribals to renew their caste certificates every six months. The process is cumbersome and costing them lot of money and labour. The tribals have demanded the issuance of caste certificates once & for all. “It is unfortunate that the Govt is issuing temporary residence certificates to the local tribals like that of outsiders staying in this district for last five years. We demand permanent residence certificates for the local adibasis and dalits”, said Sri Basanta Ulaka, Convenor and Vice-President of Adibasi Mahasangha.

For search of livelihood, scores of adibasis and dalits have migrated fro the interior villagers into the municipality and NACs of the district. Though they have contributed immensely to the growth of these towns, they have not been allotted pattas in the bastis they have been staying since several years and in spite of demands to several authorities nobody has paid any heed to them. They should be properly identified by the revenue authorities and provided entitlement to the land of stay, demanded the members of Mahasangha.

The tribals are not getting housing loans from banks pledging their land patta even if free from OLR Act-1956. They have demanded to promulgate special act in this regard.

Though most of the land belonged to tribals, almost 80% of land is with the rich and landlords. The Mahasangha members have demanded to institute an inquiry regarding the alienation and return the land to the original landholders. They also expressed their concern about the inaction by the state police to nab the murderers of adibasi leader and Councillor Bhagirathi Manding of Tumbiguda and thereby injustice meted out to the members of Bhagirathi. Demand for immediate arrest of the culprits has been made.

The members have submitted the memorandum to the Governor through the District Collector, Rayagada. Sri Laxmi Narayan Sabat, Asstt Collector, Rayagada has received the memorandum on behalf of the Collector. The members have also organized a press conference and placed their demand before the scribes. Other members of Mahasangha present were Pratap Puala, Demba Pedanti, Tripati Kadraka, Sankar Meleka, Somanath Jakaka, Raising Bidika(Jr), Mina Rao Tadingi, Krishna Toika and other Mahasangha leaders.

“The six point demands which mainly revolved around land and identity of tribals seem to be genuine. As the Governor has a very important role for the governance of Schedule-V areas, his hearing of these just demands will go a long way and it will contain the unrest among tribals like that of Narayanpatna”, said the senior scribe Sri Deepak Prusty.