As per 2001 Census, Tribal population constitute 8% of the total population of the Country and among them 80% live in the central belt, extending from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the West and across the States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, to West Bengal and Tripura in the East and remaining 20% live in the northeastern states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and in the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep.
Types of landowning structure of tribal
Forest and land is fundamental livelihood resources of tribes. There are three types of landowning structure in tribal areas; one is community land where land belongs to the village and another kind of structure where land belongs to the clan and another structure where land belongs to the individual member.
Protection under Constitution
Sixth Schedule of The Constitution of India has made special provisions for safeguarding the interest of the tribes and the Government of each taste is to take care of the tribes.
The excessive dependence of tribal communities on land for their income and employment makes land alienation and landlessness a major livelihood namely agriculture or farming activity concern of the tribe. In order to cultivate in the forest land, tribes had to rely on the local money lenders for seed capital and this in turn led transfer of land to the money lender for non-payment of loans and reduced them to status of tenants of the moneylender-landlord combine.
However, story does not end here, there are other ways where land of tribes had been transferred to non-tribes. There are many cases where the land was transferred to other tribes who worked for the non-tribal owner and this more or less tantamount to benami transfer.
Next phase of land alienation had began with the commencement of development projects after independence and the forest land was then converted into plantations and sites for construction of hydel and other projects.
In order to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens namely forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 had passed in the Parliament.
Despite implementation of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the problems of tribes have not been resolved.
Major flaws in The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
By virtue of Section 3(f) of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, rights of the tribes have been protected, where it is stated that “rights in or over disputed lands under any nomenclature in any State where claims are disputed”. However, considering the fact that tribes are not educated as well as somehow managed their livelihood, in the event of disputes over land would arise, they may not have the ways to knock at door of the court and in such scenario local ruler or village head would always edge over vulnerable tribes to take ownership of the land.
Recommendations to incorporate few provisions in the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Other possible Land Reform measures
1. Identification of priority pockets with large concentration of tribes who cultivates the land of non-tribes on condition of delivering a share of produce of such land to that person. The main aim is to record the names of such tribes.
2. Camping by the Government Officials at the priority pockets and educating tribes about their cultivation rights and also educate them about different subsidy given by the Government to farmers and also encourage them to take loan from banks and avoid taking loan from money lenders.
3. Appoint few groups of person who can guide the tribes to take loan from the bank.
4. The tribes who have been cultivating in the land of non-tribes, gives them rights by way of issuing temporary certificates called `parchas’ to enable them to take loan from the bank to cultivate on the land.
5. Identify the non-tribes who is beneficial owners of land directly and indirectly and investigate the matter how they acquired large chunk of lands. In the event, it will be found that large chunk land was acquired by means of fraud then land should be taken from those non-tribes and such land would be distributed among tribes whose names has been registered.