On 16th September 2014, thousands of landless peasants mainly tribals and dalits gheraoed the Gajapati collectorate at Paralakhemundi demanding their rights over land and forest. This programme was organized by CPI(ML)ND and Lok Sangram Manch jointly in which more than three thousand people from five blocks (Mandal) of the district participated to press their demands over land and forest right before the state Govt. In Gajapati district landless people particularly the tribals have taken the lead in capturing hundreds of acres of land over the past several years. These include the Govt land, forest land, temple land and even the illegal patta lands of landlords. Coming under the pressure of land movement the district administration (both the revenue and police) had convened meetings on land issue several times in the past and assured the CPI(ML) ND and LSM leaders to distribute the Govt. land among the landless people living in each village. Though the Odisha Govt. several times in the past has promised to distribute the Govt. land to every landless family but it never materialized. As per the Odisha land reform Act also there is provision to distribute the Govt. land in each village to the landless and homeless people.
After the enactment of Forest Right Act the Govt. does not seem to be serious about allotting titles to tribals over their forest land. Thousands of applications are pending before different district authorities for years together but the process of clearance is very slow. In majority of cases where title was issued tribal people were given only some decimals of homestead land instead of agricultural land.
Similarly after receiving the letter of GOI, Govt. of Odisha has ordered to all district collectors to carry out a survey of landless dalits in their respective districts so that the Govt will buy private land on its own money to distribute among landless people particularly among dalits. But due to lack of political will this order was not implemented. But citing this order CPI(ML)ND and Lok Sangram Manch has demanded and organized movements to pressurize the Govt. to distribute land among landless dalits where there is no Govt. land available in that village Mouza.
In Gajapati district due to the pressure of land movement the district administration convened several meeting in the past with our leaders and in principle agreed to distribute the Govt. land and where there is no Govt. land available then will distribute only homestead land to poor people by purchasing it from private persons. Similarly it has agreed to speed up the processing of claim forms of tribal people under Forest Right Act (FRA).
Demanding titles over Govt. land, to distribute land purchasing private land and issue pattas under FRA the Gajapati unit Of CPI(ML)ND and LSM organized the programme on 16th Sept. A huge rally was started from the Court square with members of Inquilab Sanskrutika Manch members dancing in the front. After reaching the Collectorate a meeting was held in which Comrade Jacob Raita, district president of LSM presided. Comrade Bhalachandra, spokesperson of CPI(ML)ND in Odisha in his speech criticized the Modi led NDA Govt. for diluting the FRA, Land Acquisition Act and MGNREGA, Labour Acts in the interest of corporate. Citing the ongoing arrest of many ruling party leaders by the CBI in connection with the multi lakh crore Chit fund scam he said that this has exposed the loot of people’s hard earn savings by the Naveen Govt. Instead of distributing land to the landless the Govt. is more concerned to allot thousands of acres to different corporate houses. He urged the Govt to fulfill the demands of tribals and give them right over land and forest otherwise people will force the administration. CPI(ML)ND district committee member comrade Karuka Sabara, LSM district secretary Comrade Haribandhu Karjee and tribal leader Samsan Gomango also spoke on the occasion and urged the people to intensify their struggle over land and forest. In the end a 7 member delegation met the District Collector and submitted a memorandum to her.