Assam's Revenue and Disaster Management Minister, Jogen Mohan, informed the state assembly on March 17 that more than 8.57 lakh encroachers are occupying over 5,404 sq km of land across the state. According to a written reply by the minister in response to a query by Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia, of the encroachers, 2.12 lakh are landless people, 1.24 lakh are from the minority community, and 31,839 are erosion-hit people.
Mohan shared a table in his reply, stating that the encroachers include at least 2,11,698 landless people, 31,839 erosion-affected, 1,03,422 from the economically weaker section, 68,981 Scheduled Castes, 77,616 Scheduled Tribes, 1,21,089 from the general category and 1,24,150 from the minority community. The table further identified 1,18,265 people in Charaideo and Dhemaji as encroachers, but did not elaborate on their class, caste, or community.
Mohan added that the encroachers have encroached more than 40,39,450 bighas (over 5,404 sq km) of land across the state, which includes 3,62,102.86 hectares of forest lands, including 16,944.93 hectares of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. However, the minister said that steps are being taken to clear the encroached land, and over 32,633 bighas (nearly 44 sq km) have been cleared so far.
The minister informed the House that necessary steps were taken as per the Supreme Court directives and existing laws before carrying out the eviction drives. Mohan said, "The government is utilising the cleared land for various purposes like water bodies, roads, gas pipelines, offices, railway works, agricultural projects and playgrounds. We are also allotting lands to eligible persons and organisations."
Mohan also said that the cleared lands of the Satras (Vaishnavite monasteries) have been returned to them, while the forest department is taking afforestation works in the encroachment-free jungle locations.
The issue of encroachment has been a long-standing problem in Assam, and the state government's efforts to clear the encroachments have faced resistance from various groups, including political parties and civil society organizations. However, the government is committed to taking necessary steps to clear the encroached land and utilize it for the development of the state.
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