Assam proposes changes in ordinance on industries to protect land rights of indigenous people
Following opposition and concerns, Assam government on Thursday announced changes to a recent ordinance of setting up industries in order to protect land rights of indigenous people of the state.
On June 29, Assam cabinet had passed an ordinance allowing setting up of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) industries by just submitting a self-declaration without taking any permission for a period of three years and added that land for setting up industries would be “deemed converted”.
The move had led to apprehensions that ‘outsiders’ would purchase agricultural land and convert them for industrial purpose without any checks, which might hurt land rights of indigenous people.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, industries minister Chandra Mohan Patowary informed that in order to address the concerns Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal held a meeting earlier this week to discuss provisions of the “draft ordinance related to use of land”.
“It was unanimously decided that stringent measures and provisions should be made so that the right of the indigenous people are protected and kept unaffected,” said the minister.
Patowary said a provision has been proposed to be made in the draft MSME ordinance that all provisions of the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Reclassification and Transfer for Non-Agricultural Purpose) Act, 2015 and other laws will have to be followed for setting up any enterprise and no exemption will be given under the aforesaid Act or any land related Act for any business initiative or business enterprise.
“Earlier there was a provision that after getting the acknowledgement certificate, agricultural land was proposed to be deemed converted for non agricultural purpose to set up an industry,” said the minister.
“But now it is proposed that so far as land is concerned, no such exemption will be given. The business enterprises will have to take all the permission, clearance and approval related to land before starting any industry,” added Patowary.
Also all land related laws and provisions under the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Reclassification and Transfer for Non-Agricultural Purpose) Act, 2015 will have to be followed by all enterprises.
Existing provisions in the draft ordinance restricting use of public grazing reserves, village grazing reserves, wetland, heritage, historical and archaeological sites, land belonging religious institutions and land in tribal belts and blocks, for setting up industries will remain.
Patowary said that due to Covid-19 more than 3.5 lakh people have returned from various parts of the country to Assam and the MSME ordinance was drafted keeping them into consideration so that they could set up industries in own land.
“Keeping in mind apprehensions of the people, government has decided to make more stringent arrangement so that there should be no ambiguity that the rights of the local people are protected. The government reassures its commitment to the rights of the indigenous people over their land,” he said.