RANCHI: The BJP-led state government’s attempts to amend provisions of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act—both meant to protect tribal land from alienation in Jharkhand—have become a key issue in the Lok Sabha polls despite the fact that they were abandoned after protests by tribal bodies and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties.
Under the prevalent CNT Act, only a tribal can purchase or sell land to another tribal belonging to the same police station area, with permission from the deputy commissioner, while the SPT Act, applicable to Santhal Paragana division, does not allow any land transfer or commercial use, but only leases or donations free of cost for residential purposes.
The proposed amendments had triggered unrest among tribals, with even Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wading into the issue as it had created rifts among BJP MLAs, who feared a loss of support.
Tribal activists say the fear that the BJP may yet amend the Acts to dispossess tribals are alive and the opposition campaign has impacted the tribal-dominated constituencies of Gumla, Lohardaga, Khunti and Ranchi, besides Dumka, Rajmahal and Godda in Santhal Parganas.
“If their land is snatched away, tribals would just starve”, said noted academician and chief convener of Jharkhand Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha, Dr Karma Oraon.