The controversial scheme, which allows citizens to register illegal and unauthorised plots, was introduced in September.

A group of protesters holding green flags and banners protesting against the Layout Registration Scheme in Telangana
news Protest Friday, October 09, 2020 - 18:05

Adivasis in the state have launched a series of protests, including hunger strikes, against the newly introduced Layout Registration Scheme (LRS), which allows citizens to register their illegal and unauthorised plots.

In Bhadradri Kothagudem district, activists of Thudumdebba – a collective of Adivasis – went on a two-day hunger strike against LRS earlier this week. The Adivasis say that the scheme violates the Land Transfer Regulation Act 1 of 1970, commonly known as the ‘1/70’ Act, which has a provision against transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals in Scheduled areas, a special status under the Constitution. They say it also undermines the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) 1996, which empowers Grama Sabhas to approve plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development before the government implements them.

“In the Scheduled (tribal agency) areas, transfer of lands is totally prohibited. If some transaction has to happen, such as allowing companies for business, etc., the Grama Sabha has to pass a resolution under the PESA Act. Only after the Grama Sabha’s approval can any activity take place. But with complete oversight, the LRS is being implemented in the Scheduled areas as well,” said Kodapa Nagesh, Thudumdebba member and state secretary of Adivasi Hakkula Porata Samithi. The samithi was started by the Adivasis to demand that the Union government declassify Lambadas from the Scheduled Tribes list.

According to Nagesh, despite a law preventing non-tribals from buying properties in Scheduled areas, over 90% of land in the Scheduled areas of the state have been bought by non-tribals, and the new online LRS would only legitimise such illegal occupation.

Under the new scheme, property owners can regularise their illegal plots through the government’s Meeseva portal. According to the government, regularising such lands will help in legitimising the property so that building permissions and registrations can be given.

“We have already requested the government against implementing LRS in the Scheduled areas and have been registering our protest in this regard. The government should know that they are violating the constitution and law. We will intensify the struggle if required,” Nagesh said.

The controversial LRS scheme was introduced earlier in September by Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development KT Rama Rao. This move, aimed at filling the treasury of the finance deficit state, has been opposed by activists and Opposition parties too. Activists argue that the LRS violates various sections of the Telangana Urban Areas (Development) Act, 1975; Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Act, 1955; Telangana Town Planning Act, 1920; State Municipalities Act, 2019; HMDA Act, 2008; and Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 2018. The Opposition Congress, too, has spoken up against the scheme saying it would create a financial burden on the property owners.

As the LRS is in conflict with the GHMC Act, the Telangana government is likely to conduct a two-day Assembly session to amend the Act making it convenient to implement the scheme.

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