Land alienation in Scheduled areas

Land alienation in Scheduled areas

Land is not only a tangible asset but is the mainstay of most of the rural folks as they are dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The tribal economy is also primarily agro-based and they have emotional attachment to land. But, with the opening of the tribal areas, the tribal land is being alienated to the non-tribals. Consequently, a large number of tribal cultivators have been rendered landless labourers.

The incidence of land alienation varies from state to state. Laws have been enacted in all the states to deal with the problem of land alienation to the tribals.In the past, an average tribal family had a fair size of land-holding which supported it even with primitive methods of cultivation. The increasing pressure of population on land particularly from the advanced section of society has forced the tribals to leave their land.

The tribal areas remained outside the land management system for a long time because of their inaccessibility. They developed their own traditional system of land management. The land ownership among the tribals broadly fell under three categories namely, (i) community land, (ii) land belonging to clans and (iii) individual holdings. Some of the tribal areas were also covered by the British system of land revenues and some of them were parts of Indian princely states. These states had no uniform land tenure system. Thus, due to the absence of a regular land settlement system or up to date record of land rights, the tribals were at the mercy of the petty revenue officers, Forest Departments and the landlords.

With the introduction of commercial orientation of land as a resource, there was a substantial increase in the pressure on the tribal land. The problem of land alienation started with the opening of the tribal areas as a result of developmental processes and setting up of various irrigation, power, industrial and mining projects. The tribals could not take advantage of the legal remedies on account of illiteracy and poverty. In the post-Independence period the reorganization of the States and Scheduling of the areas had far-reaching implications on the tribal land. Many predominantly tribal areas which had remained outside the scheduled areas did not get the benefit of protective land-laws for quite sometime. Apart from alienation of tribal land to the non-tribals, its acquisition for various public and private purposes has also been allowed. The incidents of land alienation is more in areas which are rich in mineral and other natural resources and where there are possibilities of increased agricultural production.

A sizeable area of the tribal land has been alienated. The causes are:

  • Indebtedness
  • Lacunae in the land laws
  • Acquisition of land for public purposes by the Government and other institutions
  • Encroachment and forcible eviction of tribals from their land.

Protective Provisions related to scheduled areas

Article 15(4): Promotion of Social, Economic and Educational Interests

Article 15 prohibits any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. Clause 4 of this Article empowers the state to make any special provision for advancement of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Article 16(4): Reservation in Posts and Services

Article 16(4) is another exception to the right of equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment laid down in clauses 1 and 2 of Article 16.

Article 19(5)

Safeguard of Tribal Interest in Property While the rights of free movement and residence throughout the territory of India and of acquisition and disposition of property are guaranteed to every citizen, special restrictions may be imposed by the State for the protection of the interests of the members of the Scheduled Tribes under Article 19(5).

Article 23

Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings, beggars and other similar forms of forced labor. This is significant for the Scheduled Tribes as many of them are employed as bonded labor.

Article 29

Cultural and Educational Rights This Article provides protection to Scheduled Tribe communities to preserve their languages, dialects and cultures.

Article 46

This Article provides for promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.

Article 164

This Article provides for a Minister in charge of tribal welfare in the states of Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

Article 320(4)

Article 320(4) provides that Public Service Commissions need not be consulted as respects the manner in which any provision referred to in Clause 4 of Article 16 may be made or as respects the manner in which effect may be given to the provisions of Article 335.

Articles 330, 332 and 334

Seats shall be reserved in the House of People for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Article 330). Seats shall also be reserved for Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of every state (Article 332).Such reservation shall cease to have effect if it expires a period of 40 years from the commencement of the Constitution,i.e., in 1990(Article 334).


Article 335

Limits of Reservation The claims of members of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration in the matter of appointment to the services and posts under the Union and the States as far as may be consistent with maintenance of efficiency of administration.

Article 338

Special Officer There shall be a special officer for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to be appointed by the President.

Articles 371(A), 371(B) AND 371(C)

The Constitution contains special provisions under Articles 371(A), 371(B) and 371(C) with respect to the State of Nagaland, Tribal Areas of Assam and the State of Manipur respectively.

Article 339(1)

Appointment of a Commission The President may, at any time and shall, by order appoint a Commission to report on the administration of Scheduled Areas and the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the States (Article 339-1).

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