Skip to main content

Tribal land rights implementation poorest in Gujarat's backward Dahod district: Representation to chief minister

Tribals protest in Ahmedabad for land rights
By Our Representative
A new compilation on providing cultivation rights to tribal farmers has revealed that in the backward Dahod district of Gujarat, out of a total of 20,150 claims submitted to the local forest rights committee, formed by the state government to verify and hand over land titles, just about 3,162 farmers -- just 15.68% as against the state average of 40% -- have been handed over cultivation rights over the last one decade.
A representation sent to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, with complete details of tribals who have failed to get cultivation rights, along with data from across Gujarat’s eastern tribal belt, says that a major reason why Dahod has suffered more than other districts is, officials here do not apply provisions of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The district officials disregard the provision that the tribal applicant should offer two records along with an elderly person’s statement, apart from visual evidence before the village council, as the valid documents for the right to cultivate, says the representation. Instead, it adds, they take into consideration the opinion and receipts of the forest department.
Worse, the representation says, the forest department has been forcibly carrying out plantation on the land claimed by the tribal cultivators. And when the cultivators go to the police to complain, nothing happens. “Police officials intimidate the cultivators, asking them why they are cultivate forest land”, the representation by Ekalavya Sangathan, operating in the tribal-dominated districts of eastern Gujarat, says.
Ekalavya had planned a rally in Ahmedabad with the participation of around 4,000 tribals to protest against "poor" implementation of the FRA, 2006, in Gujarat. While it could not hold its rally, it was allowed a mass gathering at Sardar Baugh in the city after the representation was handed over to the district collector, Ahmedabad.
Things are bad in other parts of Gujarat as well, says the representation. In Khedbrahma and Vijaynagar talukas of Sabarkantha district, forest officials forcibly carry out plantation on the forest land, on which the crops are ready to be harvested. They even take the help of the state reserve police (SRP) forces and to intimidate the tribals.
In Sabarkantha’s Poshina taluka, the representation adds, forest officials forcibly carries out plantation on the land which has been given cultivation rights. The does not accept complaint against the forest department in Kheroj and Poshina areas.
In fact, says the representation, at several places in Sabarkantha’s Poshina and Vijaynagar talukas, there has not been any verification of tribal land. In such cases the claimed land should be verified immediately, yet the approved claim application cultivation rights document does not have any or seal of the concerned authority.
On December 31, 2013, the representation says, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi handed over land entitlement to 2,596 tribal farmers out of 9,939 who were identified as valid claimants in Panchmahal district. The rest of 7,343 farmers have still not received entitlement till date.
Tribals show documents showing they have right to land
At some spots, the representation says, famers have the rightful possession of land, and have built their house over it. However, when farmers cultivate the land, the forest department expects them to pay fine.
Things are also bad in non-tribal talukas of some of North Gujarat districts. Thus, in Modasa, Himatnagar, Idar, Vadali and Malpur, FRA, 2006 has still not been implemented. Here, even forest rights committees have not been formed, hence claims have not been taken up for examination.
Then, in Mahisagar district’s Virpur and Balasinor talukas, says the representation, no FRCs have been formed, hence the claims of the applicants have not been submitted. In Lunavada and Khanpur talukas, application forms have been filled but nobody knows what has happened thereafter.
Blaming government policy of making non-cultivators as presidents and vice-presidents of forest rights committees for such state of affairs, the representation, says, such committees should be reviewed and dissolved, and new committee should be formed.
The policy has led to a situation where other backward class forest dwelling farmers’ claims have been rejected, even though they are equal claimants of forest land under FRA, 2006. Such claims should be approved and entitlement should be given, the representation says.

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.