Who is a Bhumiputra in Goa, and why is the Opposition objecting to the new law?

Source: https://indianexpress.com


The legislative assembly of Goa passed the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021 for giving ownership rights to Bhumiputra (son of the soil)’. However, the bill has been criticised by the opposition as it was passed in haste and reckless manner.

  • The legislative assembly of Goa passed the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021 and 10 other bills in its recent assembly session.
  • The bills were passed even though 12 Opposition MLAs walked out on the last day of the three-day Assembly session.
About the bill:
  • It recognises anyone living in the state for 30 years or more as a ‘Bhumiputra (son of the soil)’. It gives Bhumiputra the right to own his or her ‘small dwelling unit’ if the ownership was undetermined till now.
  • Once recognised as a Bhumiputra, an individual can stake claim to ownership of their house of not more than 250 sq m, built before April 1, 2019.
  • It provides for the constitution of the Bhumiputra Adhikarini. It is a committee consisting of the Deputy Collector as its Chairperson, and officials from the departments of Town and Country Planning, Forest and Environment. Mamlatdars of respective talukas are also part of the committee.
  • Bhumiputra may apply to the committee if his house has been built before the cut-off date. The committee will invite objections within 30 days, including from the land owner, which could also be a local body, and then take a decision of granting ownership to the Bhumiputra.
  • An appeal against the Bhumiputra Adhikarini’s decision can be filed before the Administrative Tribunal within 30 days. 
  • It states that no court shall have jurisdiction “to entertain, decide or deal with any question which is to be decided by the Bhumiputra Adhikarini and Administrative Tribunal under this Act”.
Rationale behind its introduction:
  • To provide a mechanism to give ownership rights to the self-occupied dweller of a small housing unit.
  • To enable him/her to live with dignity and self-respect and exercise his right to life.
Why is the Opposition objecting to the bill?
  • They said there was not enough time in the curtailed Assembly session to study or debate the Bill, and 10 others passed “in a haste”. 
  • It called this the ruling party’s “election engineering” and flagged concerns over illegal structures being regularised.
  • They said that the bill would recognise encroachments by slum-dwellers that are over 30 years old as Bhumiputras.
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