The Jharkhand cabinet on Tuesday approved conversion of agriculture land of scheduled tribes for commercial use to boost trade, investment and revenue.
The provision for change in land use was introduced with amendments to Section 21 of the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, 1908, and Section 13 of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949, said revenue and land reforms secretary KK Soan.
He said, however, land rights will remain intact. The government will soon frame the rules of land conversion and tax, not exceeding 1% of land value.
The two laws were considered deterrent to the growth of Chotanagpur and Santhal regions of Jharkhand. Under the proposed amendment, a schedule tribe member with agricultural land can use that land for commercial purposes after following due procedure of the law.
“Ratified by the tribal advisory council in January this year, the cabinet decision will be introduced in the state assembly for discussion. The bill will be sent to the President of India through the governor for assent to become law,” said Soan.
The cabinet also gave its nod to amendments to Section 49 and Section 71 of the CNT Act.
The government, after the amendment to Section 49, will be able to acquire land in the Chotanagpur region to develop infrastructure such as expansion of railways, roads, communication networks, irrigation, and for energy purposes and mining activities, or to set up industry.
Until now, the government could acquire land only through the deputy commissioner for mining and industry, who was empowered under the law.
But the amendment comes with a rider. “The land will be transferred to the original owners if the land is not made in use in five years,” said Soan.
The Section 71 amendment is to eliminate delays in restoring tribal land illegally transferred to non-tribals. The deputy commissioners of the regions where the tenancy acts are applicable will now have to dispose of litigations within six months, as against the two years allowed earlier.