Meghalaya: Sangma gives 'land patta' to over 100 homes in Garo Hills  
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma handing out a land patta at the ceremony

Tura: In an important development, the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) transferred land ownership rights to tribal households of Reserve Gittim village in West Garo Hills on Friday.

In a ‘thanksgiving ceremony’ organised by the residents of the village, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma awarded land pattas to more than 100 tribal households.

One of the residents of Reserve Gittim receiving her land patta from Chief Minister Conrad Sangma

Swapnil Tembe, DC, West Garo Hills and Rikse R Marak, CEO of Tura Development Board were also present at the ceremony.  

Unlike other parts of India, Meghalaya did not have clear land titles. This was due to its unique agrarian system (shifting/ jhum) and distinctive social structure.

After Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972, Meghalaya tribals in various parts of the state have been requesting for recognition of their rights over their land.

Considering the rise of modern agriculture, clear demarcation of land and its ownership was demanded. The absence of land records and formal documentation further posed a challenge in identifying the rightful owners. 

On August 19, 2018, a memorandum was presented to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma requesting him to solve the challenge faced by people.

Sangma said, “Right over land is key to the identity of our tribal people. The transfer of land rights to rightful owners is one of our topmost agendas. In the past four-and-a-half years of our tenure, we have done everything to help the people of Reserve Gittim. We have made provisions to award legal rights over land to the tribal people of Meghalaya. We plan to help tribals across the state who are facing similar challenges.”

Swapnil Tembe, DC, WGH further added, “Settlement process is very important. For every application such as bank, loan, and certificate application, land document is important.”

The district administration revenue staff is conducting surveys to solve problems in the area, he added.

He said the water and electricity departments would coordinate with each other to solve the many problems faced by the residents of the area.  

Sharon D Sangma, one of the beneficiaries, said, “As we did not have land pattas, we could not connect pipelines or get electricity and could not apply for tribal certificates. We are grateful for the support of the Chief Minister and the CEM.”

Remsoni Ch Marak, another beneficiary added, “When we went to offices for loans, we were asked if we had pattas but when we could not provide one, we were told we could not apply for big loans. Now that we have got the pattas, we are grateful to everyone.”

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