Karnataka to allow Tibetan refugees to lease land in their own names

Niranjan Kaggere, Bangalore Mirror |November 4, 2015

They will now hold lands in their own names under leases to grow crops but will not be eligible to transfer, mortgage or pledge leased lands to anyone else

Fifty-five-years after taking refuge in Karnataka and India, Tibetan refugees put up at various rehabilitation camps will be ‘recognised’ as citizens of this land!
Contrary to the belief that Tibetans in India do not have citizen rights, they will henceforth be issued Rights Tenancy and Crops (RTC) record in their names making them eligible to avail benefits particularly from Revenue and Agricultural department in Karnataka!
However, Karnataka government has put a rider that they should not mortgage or pledge the land which has been leased to them by the state government. Karnataka, being the first state after Himachal Pradesh in India to offer refuge to the Tibetans, is yet again making news in this domain by recognising the rights of lakhs of Tibetan refugees who have been living across the state. Implementing the new Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014, the state government recently passed an order enabling lakhs of Tibetans in exile to obtain land records in their names.
Sources in the revenue department told Bangalore Mirror that all regional commissioners of three districts – Mysuru, Uttara Kannada and Chamarajanagar – have last month been directed to implement the government order and issue Tibetans with the RTCs.

‘Since 1961, when Nijalingappa government allotted 6,142.25 hectares of land on lease to Tibetan refugees who came along with the 14th 8Dalai Lama to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, lakhs of Tibetans are put up at rehabilitation camps at Mundagod in Uttara Kannada, Bylakuppe and Gurupura in Mysuru district and Kollegal.

Accommodating the large exodus, forest lands were diverted and converted as rehabilitation camps. The forest lands were released to the revenue department which subsequently leased those to the Tibetans.

Although the lands were released by the government for non-forestry purpose, legal status of these lands remained ‘forests’ in records as they were not denotified by the state government under Karnataka Forest Act 1963.

“As the records revealed that these lands are forest in nature, individual Tibetan farmers who were cultivating these lands found it difficult to get RTC in their names. In the absence of RTC entries, Tibetan cultivators were deprived of agriculture related subsidies by the state, other incentives from the government, and loans from banks.

In this backdrop, minister for home, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Dolma Gyari met state government officials from various departments like forest, revenue, and agriculture and held talks in this regard.

The CTA also assured of proper protection and utilisation of lands leased for Tibetans and requested the government for uniform long term lease of lands,” explained a senior officer from forest, ecology and environment department.


Gyari and administrative members of the CTA visited Karnataka in June-July and held extensive talks with the government about problems faced by Tibetans. Issuance of RTC was the major one. A senior forest official told BM, “This should have been ordered long ago; at last it has happened. But we will be conducting annual Jamabandhi to find out any encroachment into forest areas.” According to an official notification by the government, a copy of which is with the Bangalore Mirror, land will be leased in the name of CTA and henceforth, individual Tibetan cultivator name will also figure in the RTC. Vinay Luthra, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) explained, “For all records purpose, status of the leased land will continue as ‘forest’.

No individual will get land leased to them directly. It will be leased to the Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) and then it would be allotted to individual Tibetans. Annual lease amount shall be payable to the revenue department as decided by the government. Such lands are primarily used for cultivation and they can use it for any other purpose in accordance with the Central Tibetan Policy-2014 by informing the revenue and forest departments. If settlements are withdrawn, the land will be taken back in the custody of the forest department.

Acknowledging the problems faced by Tibetan cultivators, although the state government has agreed to issue RTCs, the revenue department has put certain conditions. “Neither the CTRC nor any of the individual Tibetans would be eligible to transfer the lease or mortgage or pledge the leased lands to any institution or individual, which will attract termination of the lease. Besides, the status of the lands continues to be mentioned as ‘forest’ along with the names of individual Tibetan refugees. With RTCs in their name, they can avail crop loans, incentives on agriculture equipment, farm loans, etc. We have already directed deputy commissioners of three districts through the regional commissioners to implement the order,” explained a secretary from the revenue department.


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