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

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Why nobody objected to Gautam Gambhir, Sunny Deol in t-shirt, jean?: Activists

By Our Representative
Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s excitement on their first day as MPs was overshadowed by a barrage of sexism over their ‘non- sanskari’ outfits, a group of civil society activists have said in a statement. According to Aarushi Nigam, Divya Kaushik, Riya Sharma, Ruman Ganguly, and Anulekha Agarwal, both Bengali actors and first-time MPs "were certainly excited to take them on when they posted pictures from their new workplace on social media."
Hit by misogynistic comments, the activists say, "Their choice of workwear – jeans and a white button-down shirt for Mimi, a wine-coloured peplum suit for Nusrat – was the first and last word on their political competence for many."
“You’re not on vacation”, “they have mistaken Parliament for Kolkata’s Nicco Park or City Centre”, “this is not a photo studio, this is a place where you should fight for people’s rights and legislate”, “keep some respect towards your Bengali society” were some of the &quo…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat CM aide 'doubts' authenticity of Gandhi article published in 'Harijan'

By Rajiv Shah
A top aide of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has doubted the authenticity of the article written by Mahatma on Gandhi January 27, 1948, three days before his death. Hitesh Pandya, who was assistant public relations officer (PRO) under Narendra Modi’s chief ministership in Gujarat, and is currently serving as PRO of Rupani, has said, there is “reason to doubt”, since the article appeared on February 1, 1948, two days after Gandhi’s assassination.

Denied permission in Ahmedabad to protest on Kashmir, NGO seeks online support

By Our Representative
Gujarat chapter of the Delhi-based Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), which calls itself is a socio-cultural organization established “as a response to 2002 Gujarat riots”, has sought support from state academics, activists and professionals for a petition against the “unilateral” decision of the Government of India to “revoke” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) legislature’s “right to self-governance”.

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

RSS chief's Hindutva motto seems to be: Down with lynching, long live vadh

By Shamsul Islam*
India has turned into the lynching capital of the world. Our country has been tagged with this infamous identity with Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister of India in 2014. The Modi rule herald the beginning of nation-wide spree of lynching of Dalits and minorities. Unfortunately, there is no government data collection on hate-crimes but few media outlets have been collecting the lynch data.