Assam’s Order on Land Conversion for Industries Raises Concerns Over Threat to Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights | Latest India News

The Assam government’s decision to allow land conversion without permission for the establishment of industries in the state sparked a row and drew criticism from opposition parties.

On Monday, the state cabinet approved an ordinance allowing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to establish industries by submitting only a self-declaration.

“In a landmark and far-reaching decision to ease the process of building industries in Assam, the state cabinet approved an ordinance today. Now anyone can create an industry in Assam simply by submitting a self-declaration, ”Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary tweeted Monday.

“No authorization, authorization or license will be required for three years. The land will also be deemed to be converted for industrial purposes. Such a bold and advantageous change should accelerate the process of industrialization in Assam, ”added the Minister.

While more details on the ordinance, which has yet to be approved by Governor Professor Jagdish Mukhi, are not available, concerns have surfaced as to whether it would lead to the rapid conversion of farmland. as well as those of tribal belts for industrial purposes without any checks and balances.

“This ordinance will seriously harm Assam’s rural economy and the state’s farmers. Few Assamese have the means to secure land and create industries and the benefits of this ordinance will be reaped by those outside, ”said Debabrata Saikia, a congressional lawmaker and opposition leader in the ‘Assam Assembly.

“Last December, when the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests were at their peak, the state government announced that it would pass two laws to protect the land rights of indigenous peoples. But this order goes against this assurance. We demand that it be repealed immediately, ”Saikia said.

He also expressed concern about the risks to health and the environment.

It is not yet clear whether MSMEs wishing to create industries will need to apply for environmental and pollution permits.

“We have about a lakh of MSMEs in Assam and the ordinance might seem to give them close to ??6,000 crore is expected to come to the state as part of the Center ??3 lakh crore stimulus package for the sector, ”said Nilay Dutta, Senior Counsel.

“But existing MSMEs don’t need land. We welcome the steps taken to facilitate the creation of new industries, but when they set up on farmland without any authorization, any protection afforded to indigenous farmers will disappear in a flash. What was the serious urgency of this move? Dutta asked.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU), a powerful political force in the state, said the ordinance was anti-indigenous because it ran counter to recommendations made by the committee on clause VI of the Accord. of Assam and also contrary to the Bharatiya decision. Promise by the Janata Party (BJP) government to protect the state’s maati (land).

“Allowing industries to set up without any authorization from the revenue department on the sole basis of a self-declaration form will undermine the land rights of the Assamese people and make the state a playground for industrialists of outside. We want this order to be revoked as soon as possible, ”said Lurinjyoti, Gogoi, secretary general of AASU.

Prodyut Bora, the chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), claimed that the move would result in a large-scale land grab by “bags of money” and that all land on both sides of the national and national highways would be purchased and converted into industries.

Bibhab Talukdar, the founder of Guwahati-based wildlife protection nongovernmental organization (NGO) Aaranyak, also opposed the state government’s “rushed decision”.

“The ordinance appears to have been hastily drafted without assessing Assam’s ability to develop economically without further damaging its ecosystem, goods and services. An unscientific way of converting farmland for industries requires immediate overhaul. If an industrialist wants to build an industry in key wilderness areas of the state, such as Deepor Beel, located in the southwestern part of Guwahati, won’t that jeopardize the conservation of pristine forests, rich wildlife? and diverse and environment? The state government has a lot to answer, ”Talukdar said.