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

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.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”