Skip to main content

Congress vice-president unhappy with Himachal chief minister over "refusal" to implement Forest Rights Act

Rahul Gandhi with Virbhadra Singh
By Our Representative
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is learnt to be unhappy with the party’s Himachal Pradesh (HP) government, led by chief minister Virbhadra Singh, for its “failure” to implement the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, in the state, even as declaring occupiers on forest land as encroachers.
Keenly aware of how it would erode Congress base in a state still under Congress rule, Gandhi told a delegation consisting of several civil rights organizations, which met him, that it is “totally wrong” on the part of the HP government to declare all forest rights claims in the state were settled even before the FRA, 2006 came into existence.
Asking senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, former environment minister, to immediately look into the matter, Gandhi was quoted as saying that the Congress is “fully committed” to implementing FRA, 2006, and there “there cannot be any laxity” about it.
The delegation – which consisted, among others, of Guman Singh of Him Niti Abhiyan; Jiya Lal of the Him Lok Jagriti Manch; Devi Gyan of the Lippa Sangarsh Samiti,; R Sreedhar of Environics Trust; and Ashok Shrimali of Mines, Minerals and People, Ahmedabad – told Gandhi that the HP government is “misleading” even the High Court about the process of implementing the FRA.
In its representation, the delegation said, in HP, out of total geographical area of 55,673 sq km, 66.52% comprises of forest land – 37,033 sq km”, adding, while most of the forest land is “unculturable and snow bound”, 13,907 sq km, roughly one fourth of the total geographical area “is culturable and is under traditional access of local communities.”
“Approximately 95% of the state population lives in villages are dependent on these forests for various livelihood needs”, the representation said, adding, it is this section of society falls in the FRA, 2006.
It adds, these people come other the category of other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) and schedule tribes forest dwellers (STFD) “living in the Schedule 5 areas of Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur and Pangi-Bharmour and are eligible for the recognition of community forest resource rights and Individual forest land rights.”
Pointing towards how the HP government “from very beginning has tried to evade implementation of the FRA, 2006”, the representation said, in fact, it has gone so far as to claim that the “rights have been settled by the British through the imperial settlement process and hence recognition under FRA is not necessary.”
It further said, it was only under the constant pressure of the local communities and Ministry of Tribal Affairs that the “state government started the process in 2008 in tribal region and in 2012-13 in the non-tribal regions.”
Yet, no claims of forest rights under FRA have not been verified and recognized, said the representation, adding, “All filed claims are pending with sub-divisional level committees and district level committees till date”, with some of them having been “sent back to forest rights committees by raising objections without following the procedures laid down under FRA rules, 2012.”
Meanwhile, the representation said, the forest department, on the basis of a High Court order, “pressurized dwellers not to file claims”, going so far as to file “FIRs under HP Public Premises & Land (Eviction & Rent Recovery) Act, 1971” calling occupiers of the forest land as “encroachers.”
“The forest dwellers are helpless”, the representation said, asked Gandhi to personally impress upon the state government to “implement FRA in letter and spirit and build a fearless atmosphere so that tribals and other forest dwellers are encouraged to file claims under the Act.
“Gandhi directed Jairam Ramesh to ensure that the state government clarifies the situation in the High Court and appeals in the court to implement FRA and not victimize forest dwellers”, Guman Singh ,who led the delegation to meet Gandhi, told Counterview.
“Congress will take all measures for strengthening gram sabhas and ensure that governments don't side step the processes mandated under the Indian legal system and FRA”, Gandhi added.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”