CM announces plans to resolve land dispute

At a time when Maoist mayhem spreads to new areas in Orissa, the Naveen Patnaik government has announced its plans to resolve land
disputes soon. At a meeting here on Tuesday, the government decided to return all the tribal lands, illegally occupied by non-tribals, and provide land rights to about 20,000 tribals, living in forests.

Officials said the new tehsil offices proposed in tribal areas would be made functional at the earliest. Officer-on-special duty would be posted in the tribal areas to expedite the land dispute cases quickly, the meeting resolved. \\\"We are very serious about the problems faced by the tribals. We have now prioritized to resolve their land disputes as early as possible,\\\" revenue minister S N Patro, who attended the meeting, said. \\\"We will launch an awareness drive in tribal areas on land problems, and, if possible, engage lawyers to help the people get back their land,\\\" the minister pointed out.

Acquisition of tribal lands by non-tribals is seen as one of the key reasons behind the current tribal upsurge in many of parts of the state. The government is of the view that the rebels taking advantage of the land problems and poor developmental works in interior areas have been able to woo the tribals to their side to continue violence. Union home minister P Chidambaram, who will arrive in Bhubaneswar on a two-day visit to take stock of the unabated Maoist violence in the state, is likely to hold talks with the chief minister. He is also scheduled to visit Koraput and Kandhamal districts, where the Red rebels have reportedly deeply entrenched their position in rural areas.

The prevailing situation in Narayanapatna block in Koraput district is cited to bring home the point about the escalating Maoist violence in the state. The block has remained cut off since June 15, when the rebels first blocked the roads by felling trees, and two days later, caused a land mine blast killing nine special security police personnel.

The continuing blockade of Narayanpatna, with the tele-network being totally damaged, and public transport system coming to a standstill, has heightened the plight of common people in particular. While the civil officials are scared to enter the area, apprehending a rebel attack and land mine blasts, police personnel, having faced repeated casualties in the hands of the extremists, are loathing to do the work, which they say is the job of the district administration.

The state government on Tuesday airlifted food and other essential items for over 150 security personnel, including CRPF, stationed in Narayanpatna.

Meanwhile, road blockade by the extremists has reportedly spread to nearby Bandhugaon block, which borders Andhra Pradesh. Police said the two connecting roads linking Bandhugaon with Parvatipuram (AP) and Narayanpatna had been blocked since Tuesday night. Hundreds of tribals in Bandhugaon area had recently held a rally protesting against land grabbing by non-tribals, leasing of mines to business houses and poor infrastructural facilities. Police have also detected several Maoist posters in Balimela of Malkangiri district and other areas in the region.

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