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

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.