Skip to main content

Less than 15% of Odisha tribals' community rights recognized, thousands of forest land claims rejected: CSD activists

Participants in the CSD rally
By Our Representative
The tribal rights group Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, has revealed that while around 40,000 mainly tribal villages are eligible to get community rights over forests, the state government has “haphazardly recognized” community forest rights of just about 5,964 (14.91%) of them, including 1070 in Kandhamal, followed by Keonjhar (511), Mayurbhanja (414), Kalahandi (185), Rayagarda (178), Malkangiri (74), and Koraput (58) districts.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, also known as Forest Rights Act (FRA), gave traditional forest dwellers their rights to access, manage and govern forest lands and resources within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department since colonial times.
Under the law, forest dwellers can apply to state governments for either individual or community forest rights, which means they can take ownership of the process of protecting and conserving forests in their areas. They can also gather and sell minor forest produce such as tendu leaves or bamboo, which was an illegal activity before the law was enacted.
Things are no better with regard to individual forest rights (IFR), said CSD, noting that as on December 31, Dec 2017, just about 1,040 IFR claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) have been approved, while only 628 OTFDs have issued IFR titles, including 555 in Sundargarh, 15 in Angul, 11 in Rayagarda and 47 in Malkangiri districts.
Addressing a rally in Bhubaneshwar, organized by the CSD to highlight the rights of the tribals in Odisha, Duleswar Bhoi from Deogarh district wondered, “If OTFDs of these districts are eligible under FRA, 2006, how OTFDs living in other districts are ineligible?”, adding, “State bureaucrats are responsible for the low recognition of IFR rights to the OTFDs in the state.”
Providing more details, Meghnath Kharsel from Nuapada district, leader of the Jami Jungle Mukti Andolan, a CSD affiliate, said a whopping 1,48,870 IFR claims have been rejected in Odisha, insisting, the state’s governor should urgently look into this problem.
In all, about 5,000 tribals and OTDTs marched in the city from Master Canteen and to Lower PMG, where a public meeting was organised. The protesters’ slogans included “Gram Sabha Sarkar Zindabad”, “CAF (Compensation Afforestation Fund) Act Radkaro”, “Adibasi Virodhi 28th March 2017 NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) Order Radkaro”, Gosti Adhikar Aamar Dabi”, “Samasta Swikruti Praptya jungle Jami Chinhata Kara”, and so on.
Gopinath Majhi, convener, CSD, Odisha, said, special focus of the march was to point towards how the CAF Act is seeking to accumulate funds in order to destroy forests by undermining the forest dwellers’ rights, even as empowering the Forest Department.
“Even the draft rules ignore the demands we made before the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India. They dilute the provisions of the FRA, undermining the authority of the Gram Sabhas and exclude the rights of the holding communities from decision-making by stipulating that compensatory afforestation activities would be undertaken in consultation with Van Samrakshan Samitis or Village Forest Committees”, Manjhi said.
Karmi Besara of Odisha Narisamaj slammed the Odisha government for deciding to stop implementation of Central government’s “MSP (minimum support price) for MFP (minor forest produce)” scheme, demanding “fair price” to minor forest produce gatherers, creation of proper storage place for the collected produce, and to support for value addition, if any.
The protest rally saw opposition to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which seeks to restrict the implementation of the FRA implementation in tiger reserves, with speakers demanding its immediate withdrawal.

Comments

TRENDING

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.

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.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

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.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

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.

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.