Inhabitants of Landabali village Indragada panchayat in Kandhamal district of Odisha reached Berhampur on Wednesday to demonstrate in front of office of Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division, demanding legal rights to the government land they have been tilling for generations.

These tribal and Dalits got support from the tribal organisation Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) and the State unit of peasants’ organisation, All-India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS). According to AIKMS national committee member B.C. Sarangi, around 30 poor tribal and Dalit families live at Landabali village and earn their livelihood by cultivating government land near their village for over three decades. Despite repeated demands they have not yet received patta for the land they cultivate, Mr Sarangi added.

Recently these poor families got panicked regarding their land rights because the Kandhamal district administration decided to rehabilitate around 15 families of Dhepaguda village on government land at Landabali village. Both these villages are in Raikia tehsil of Kandhamal district. In September this year due to geological reasons land had started to cave in at Dhepaguda village. So, around 32 families of Dhepaguda were to be rehabilitated at other places.

Fifteen families from Dhepaguda are to be rehabilitated near Landabali over 1.69 acres of land. But this patch is under possession of a woman named Sabitri Sethi. “My only source of livelihood is vegetable cultivation on this patch and I am worried because I have been served notice for eviction,” said Savitri.

According to her several times in the past she had tried to get legal right for this patch.

LSM and AIKMS activists said administration and government should look into this matter and rehabilitate Dhepaguda families on an alternate site. Also Landabali inhabitants be given the patta for the land they had been cultivating, they added.

Demonstrators also handed over a memorandum to the RDC, southern division.