23 Mar 2011
CHENNAI: A total of 4,744 acres of panchami lands (depressed classed assigned lands) have been occupied by other communities over the last year, according to information available through Right to Information Act.
According to RTI information available with Express, in 2009, the government stated that about 12,415 acres of land has been occupied by other communities while in a separate RTI in 2010, it stated that about 17,159 acres of land was occupied by them. As per law, the panchami land, which came into being after Madras government passed the Government Orders 1010 and 1010A dated 30 September 1892, could not be sold, or mortgaged to anyone. Dalit activists claim that despite the Act, panchami lands meant for Dalits have vanished. Moreover, there has been a fall in the Dalit owners of such lands. As per RTI figures in 2009, there were about 74,893 depressed class owners which later fell by about 3,771 in 2010. The RTI figures in 2010 state that there are 71,122 Dalits owning such land.
Dalit activists also question the RTI information. While figures in 2009 state that total available panchami land is 104,494.38 acres, information available through a separate RTI in 2010 states that 109,301.96 acre is available with the depressed classes. “This shows a difference of 4,807 acres. The government is never giving the correct details. As per 1901 census more than 12 lakh acres were allotted to Dalits,” claimed Y Aruldoss, state youth coordinator of National Alliance of Peoples Movements.
What is more, Sivaganga is added in the list of districts which don’t have panchami land, as per a 2010 RTI. In 2009, the government stated that only seven districts don’t have panchami land. These are Chennai, Kanyakumari, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Thoothkudi and Virudhnagar. The government had set up a panel to probe various problems regarding panchami land.