Card. Toppo: No to the law which deprives tribal lands
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Archbishop of Ranchi led a delegation of Christians to governor of Jharkhand which passed the amendments on the use of land. Eliminated the restriction that prevented the State and individuals to buy land. In the event of economic difficulties, the tribals would sell the properties to the highest bidder.


Ranchi (AsiaNews) - Christians in Jharkhand are opposed to the amendment of two laws on land ownership that threaten to deprive the use of tribal lands. Card. Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, led a Christian delegation to the governor of the Indian state, composed mostly of tribal farmers.

Meeting with Draupadi Murmu, they have expressed their concern over the new rules that would only apparently favor the farmers. AsiaNews, the archbishop said: "The amendments do not bring benefit to our people. The rules will lead to expropriation of lands ".

The dispute revolves around the amendments to two laws approved by the state government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The November 23, 2016 MPs have given consent to the amendment of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act. The amendments cancel a previous ban on acquiring tribal lands imposed by the state on individuals. This protected them and protected notice of tribal land ownership, mostly uneducated whose lands are the only source of income that guarantees their survival.

On paper, the amendments would allow the use of tribal lands for non-agricultural purposes, without losing possession. The Christians, however, complain that this gives the green light to the indiscriminate exploitation of the territory. In fact, if the tribal were in difficult economic conditions, they would be inclined to sell the land to the highest bidder.

According to Christians, no one - let alone the law in question - ensures that the tribal property will not be used to maximize the profits of industrial or tourist activities. The people who inhabit these regions for centuries, says the statement of the Christian delegation "would be left without land." Then they turn directly to the governor, who will make the final decision, adding: "We demand you stop this legislation."

Card. Toppo continues: "The life of our people is linked inextricably with the forest, land and natural resources that have sustained us for generations. Now it is threatening their very existence. Our tribal and poor people are in danger of losing the small property that they have at the expense of industrial, commercial and government projects. The amendments threaten their lives and livelihoods, destroying the future of the Jharkhand population. "

According to the cardinal, "changing laws will bring devastating consequences: mass displacement, migration of tribal, serious dangers to community life and survival". "The Church – he concluded - cannot remain silent in the face of all this. We are always on the side of the poor ".

INDIA_-_0306_-_Toppo_su_terre_tribali.jpg