Meghalaya halts land acquisition by industries

March 23rd, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, March 23 (IANS) Land acquisition by industries in Meghalaya will be kept in abeyance till the state’s industrial policy is reviewed to prevent land grab, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Wednesday.

“The industrial policy is being reviewed because several companies were found to be acquiring land much more than their requirements for setting up plants,” he said in the state assembly during question hour.

Sangma, who also holds the industries portfolio, said suitable amendments will be made to state laws to protect the interests of the indigenous communities.

Under the existing Land Transfer Act, even though non-tribals are barred from acquiring land in the Sixth Schedule areas under the control of the three autonomous district councils, any tribe from the northeast in the Scheduled Tribe list can buy and sell land in Meghalaya.

Various local organisations have demanded that other northeastern tribes should not be allowed to purchase land in Meghalaya.

In the past decade, there has been a spurt of land deals in state capital Shillong.

Meghalaya has 13 cement plants with a production capacity of about 16,000 tonnes per day. Five applications for setting up new plants are awaiting approval, the chief minister said.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma of the Nationalist Congress Party said several cement companies were illegally occupying forest land and carrying out mining.

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