Skip to main content

New Rs 1000 crore Odisha project "ignores" tribal rights over forest resources: NGO represents to Modi minister

By Our Representative
The Odisha government’s new Banayana project, which seeks to hand over a whopping Rs 1,000 crore Japan-funded biodiversity project to the state-sponsored Forest Security Committees (Vana Suraksha Samitis or VSSs), has come under heavy criticism for seeking to ignore gram panchayats’ rights over managing forests and their produce.
Launched by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik lask week for “sustainable management of forest and bio-diversity”, the project is proposed to be implemented in 14 forest and wildlife divisions of the state, covering 10 districts, with the active participation of 12,000 VSSs over a period of 10 years.
While Patnaik has said, the project “envisages sustainable management of forest and bio-diversity along with adoption of best available technology and practices,” forest rights activists in Odisha believe, the while idea is to ignore gram sabhas’ rights, given under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, 1996, and the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, which allow complete control over forests and their resources to the tribals living in the villages.
The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, which played a pivotal role in the struggle for the enactment of Forest Rights Act, 2006, has said in a statement that Banayana project is “anti-tribal and anti-FRA in the State”, and is the brainchild of the forest bureaucracy, which found its rights were taken away by PESA, 1996 and FRA, 2006.
In an effort to undermine the  Banayana project, CSD met Jual Oram, tribal minister under the Modi government, at his residence in Bhubaneswar on April 30, asking his support for "dissolving VSSs and handing over the management rights of Japanese loan to gram sabhas." CSD also handed over a petition pointing towards how gram sabhas were being ignored by the Odisha chief minister, currently facing stiff opposition from the BJP in the state. 
The Odisha government’s decision to launch the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded project, allegedly ignoring gram sabhas, has come close on the heels of a top tribal rights activist Prafulla Samantara awarded Green Nobel – Goldman Environmental Prize – for his successful legal fight against UK-based MNC Vedanta, which had sought to implement a bauxite-mining project in the forest areas without gram sabhas’ approval. 
CSD has demanded the entire amount, Rs 1,000 crore, obtainable from JICA, should be routed through the Gram Sabha and its executive committee, formed or to be formed under Section 4(1)(e) of Forest Rights Rules, 2007, wondering why the Odisha government was burdening the state with such a huge loan by allowing forest management rights to VSSs.
Seeking dissolution of all 12,000 VSSs, CSD said, if this is not done, tribals are well within their rights under the two acts – PESA, 1996 and FRA, 2006 – to dissolve them though their “gram sabha sarkars”. “While VSSs have been formed in the name of gram sabhas, in reality, they are being controlled by forest bureaucracy”, it adds.

Comments

Unknown said…
Height of politics,are they aware about such acts do exists or just vehement denial of constitutional rights of tribals still a habit of government!??

TRENDING

Nirma varsity demand for higher fees 'illegal', violates Article 14: Letter to Gujarat HC

Counterview Desk
Students of Gujarat’s top private institute, Nirma University, situated in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in a letter to the Chief Justice the state High Court, have complained that the authorities are demanding “full fees” from students, without taking into account the “disproportionate impact” the lockdown has on the livelihood of students and families.

Vulnerable to Covid-19, sharp rise in murder of Indian journalists during pandemic

By Nava Thakuria*
Vulnerability of working journalists in India is no way an alien issue as the populous country loses a number of working journalists to assailants as also medical emergencies. Even though there was only one casualty in the Indian media fraternity during the first half of 2020, who was targeted for journalistic work, India has begun witnessing an alarming number of media casualties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Plant organic, eat fresh: Emlen Bage's journey from migrant labour to agri-entrepreneur

By Chandrashekar and Kriti*
Who is a farmer? Type this question in the google search and check out the images? You can see men thronging the screen. This is the popular perception around the globe. Well one can understand how difficult it would be for a woman to defy this perception.

High youth unemployment: India 'fails' to take advantage of demographic dividend

By Varun Kumar
As coronavirus pandemic continues amplifying challenges among youth with regard to employment opportunities, government policies have further resulted in economic slowdown, leading to mass unemployment and loss jobs. According to the International Labour Organisation report “Covid-19 and the World of Work” (May 27, 2020), around 94 percent of the world’s workers are living in countries with some sort of workplace closure measures in place.

Dichotomy? US Hindutva groups oppose racism, mum on Modi's 'anti-minority' stance

By Our Representative
The Hindus for Human Rights (HHR), a US-based advocacy group, has noticed a major dichotomy between the stance taken by RSS’ US arm, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS), expressing “shock” at the “painful killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others”, all of which suggest “the tragic tale of racial injustice” in US, and HSS’ “hatred” for India’s religious minorities and Dalits.

Ahmedabad lockdown: 37% poor households didn't get ration, Dalits, Muslims worst hit

By Rajiv Shah
An authoritative survey, carried out by a group of academics and social workers, among low-income settlements in Ahmedabad during the Narendra Modi-announced Covid-19 lockdown, has said a whopping 37% of the households did not receive any free ration from the government. Of those who did receive ration (59% households), Dalits or scheduled caste (SC) and minority communities were found to be at the receiving end.

Bhima Koregaon: Demand to free all 'political' prisoners as Varavara Rao tests Covid positive

Counterview Desk
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a network of several civil society, trade union, students and civil rights groups, has sought immediate release of veteran poet-activist Varavara Rao, who has tested Covid-19 positive. Also seeking release of all political prisoners, in a statement, CASR said, “Instead of making arrangements for immediate medical care and treatment, the Taloja Jail authorities denied him medical care.”