Expressing apprehension over the Arunachal Pradesh Land Settlement and Records Amendment Act, 2018 (APLS&RA Act) passed on May 7 last in the State Assembly, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has constituted an eight-member panel to address the disadvantages of the amendments in the Act and also to streamline existing anti-people laws, procedures and process relating to land administration in line of land revenue.
The committee headed by the APCC General Secretary (Admin) Chera Taya had a threadbare discussion and interacted with the people of different strata of the society. The APCC condemned the Pema Khandu Government for “conspiring against the common mass and poor of the State in the pretext of” APLS&RA Act, as the “people were kept in the dark” before the bill was passed.
“The current Government is shrewdly blocking the economic growth of the common man by imposing such heavy land revenue. The State does not have standard growth in real estate, retail, industry, hospitality, agricultural, corporate and other commercial activities and is also not well complemented with production, market size and investment in contrary to imposed heavy rate of land revenue,” Taya said.
The Act has led to a jump in land revenue rate from Rs 5 to Rs 1,000 per square metre for commercial land and from Rs 2 to Rs 600 per square metre for residential land. “Land revenue depends on the market value of the area and facilities available in that area, whereas small commercial undertakings are barely sustaining the denizens of the State with high unemployment and poverty. Significant growth in production and occupational structure is declining than that of escalating tax and revenue. Is this the way of promoting development in Arunachal Pradesh? Is this Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Naya Arunachal’? Are Khandu and Modi not contented with GST that they are constricting livelihood and forcing indebted farmers to commit suicides?” Taya asked.
“Arunachal Pradesh ranks 5th on the poverty list with poverty rate of 34.67 per cent, which is much higher than the national average of 21.92 per cent (RBI 2013). The State has 94 per cent rural population mostly engaged in
non-commercial production. The State has lowest per capita income rate of 7.7% per cent with unemployment rate of 89 per 1,000, ranking sixth in the country whereas the national average is 50 per 1,000. Under such circumstances, where exactly will the Government levy land revenue when standard of living, commercial and residential properties are low?” the APCC leader said.
He asserted that the APLS&RA Act, which claims to ensure ownership rights to indigenous tribal people, was a “myth” when denizens of the State are not notified about land classification and measures on which land revenue is arbitrarily imposed. “As such, is the Land Amendment Bill/Act a silent step to enforce TRP 2014 and streamline its various anti-Arunachal measures to benefit refugees in the State? Is the imposed skyrocketing land revenue to accommodate subsidies for refugees as highlighted in TRP 2014? In fact, the APLS&RA Act is endorsing statelessness by inducing economic blockade and displacing the indigenous people,” Taya said.
He accused the Khandu-led BJP Government of carving out a capitalist form of land revenue system where the propertied upper class and elites will abolish land ownership of common people by inviting corporate forces to exploit and extort, and forcing the indigenous owners to be “enslaved”.
“Collecting small amount of tax on land is called land revenue. It is not a system to loot the people. A small amount in the form of land revenue, in fact is a support extended by the people to the State Government in terms of channelising varied social and economic services for the welfare of people in return. So, the State Government cannot exercise constitutional function to execute injustice without accurate situational analysis,” Taya said. The APCC further urged the Khandu Government to stop being an “oppressor” and appealed to the people to not comply with the Land Revenue Act.