The Bihar government has so far distributed over 73,000 acres of ‘Bhoodan land’ among the poor in 13 districts and no parcel is available now for allocation in these areas, according to a report. Around 1.06 lakh acres of land, donated during the ‘Bhoodan’ movement, spearheaded by human rights activist Vinoba Bhave in the 1950s, have been found “not fit for distribution” among the landless in these districts, he said. Notably, a three-member commission was set up by the Bihar government in 2017 to check the paperwork for the land donated during the movement. The panel has found that “revenue records of around 1.06 lakh acres of land donated during the Bhoodan campaign in these districts are not ‘confirmed’ (not fit for distribution),” the commission’s head Ashok Kumar Choudhary told PTI.
Gopalganj, Supaul, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, Saharsa, Sitamarhi, West Champaran, Darbhanga are among these 13 districts. “So far 73,245.47 acres of ‘confirmed’ donated land was distributed among landless in these 13 districts with the highest of 25,752 acres having been given to the poor in Supaul,” Choudhary said on Sunday. The commission submitted its report to the state government on March 3. “All land parcels, which were found fit for distribution among the poor, had already been allocated by the ‘Bihar Bhoodan Yagna Committee’ in the 13 districts. The remaining 1.06 lakh acres of land were not found fit for distribution,” he said. People had donated huge plots during the movement but the state ‘Bhoodan committee’ had later realised that many of these land parcels lack proper documentation, he said. “Also, certain plots were found located on river beds, hills and forests,” Choudhary, the former chief secretary, said, adding that the entire process of land distribution got delayed by decades due to the identification problem. The Bihar government has so far distributed over 2.56 lakh acres of land across the state, out of the 6.48 lakh acres that it had received during the Bhoodan movement, the commission said in its report. Born in 1895, Vinova Bhave had dedicated his life to propagating Gandhian values and is particularly remembered for the ‘Bhoodan’ campaign, as part of which he persuaded wealthy and affluent people across the country to donate land for distribution among the landless poor.
According to the commission’s study, it has found another 1.04 lakh acres of land in the state have been found fit for distribution among the poor and the landless, said a senior official of the Revenue and Land Reforms department. At least 2.92 lakh acres are mired in various legal and administrative bottlenecks and can be handed over to beneficiaries only after certain changes are made to the existing laws in the state, he said.
The commission has also recommended that the ‘Bhoodan Yagna Committee’ of the state government should be restructured and the CM should be made its ‘ex-officio’ chairman for the expeditious distribution of such land, the official added.