Following public outrage, the Odisha government has put the Cabinet decision to transfer tribal land to non-tribals on hold

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Following widespread condemnation, the Odisha government has put on hold a contentious Cabinet decision regarding the transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals. “The proposed amendment to Regulation-2 of 1956 (The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (By Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956) discussed in the Cabinet meeting held on November 14, 2023, regarding tribal lands transfer has been withheld,” Odisha Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi said. The Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, had agreed to the conditional transfer of tribal land to non-tribals.

“A Scheduled Tribe person may, with the written permission of the Sub-Collector, make a gift or exchange for public purposes or obtain a loan by securing a mortgage in a public financial institution for agriculture, construction of residential house, higher studies of children, self-employment, business or establishment of small scale industries or transfer the same favour of a person not belonging to Scheduled Tribe for the above purpose,” according to the note from the Cabinet.

According to the proposal, the person (tribal) should not be landless or without a homestead after such a transfer. “If the Sub-Collector does not grant permission, then the person can appeal to the Collector within six months, whose decision shall be final,” said the government’s statement. The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (By Scheduled Tribes) Regulation, 1956 is currently in effect in the state’s schedule areas. The transfer of tribal land to non-tribals is restricted.

“In 2002, after some amendments were made to this Act, a person belonging to the Scheduled Tribe category can transfer his immovable property only to a person belonging to the Scheduled Tribe category,” according to the Cabinet note. A Scheduled Tribe member in a Scheduled Area may mortgage his land to any public financial institution for agricultural purposes only.” “Due to such provisions, the educated youth belonging to Scheduled Tribes were facing many difficulties,” the statement said.

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