Skip to main content

BJP's "intentional" non-implementation of FRA: Political parties told to up the ante

Counterview Desk
India's top land rights network Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) in a statement has said that the recent Supreme Court verdict on Forest Rights Act (FRA) is a continuation of historic Injustices over Adivasis and other forest dwelling communities, insisting, if implemented, FRA 2006 would become "dysfunctional".
It warns, the order "will definitely see more unrest in various parts across India which will be leading to the impoverishment of the tribals and other forest dwelling communities."

Text of the BAA statement:

New Delhi, February 21: The recent order of the Supreme Court on a petition filed by the Wildlife Trust of India, Nature Conservation Society and Tiger Research and Conservation Trust evicting of more than a million forest dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) has been ‘rejected’, is in line with the sustained attack by the pro-corporate and conservation lobby since enactment of the Act in 2006 in the name of public interest.
By blocking the process of claiming and reclaiming of forest rights of the forest dwellers this order will make the process of implementation of FRA 2006 dysfunctional. FRA – Bhumi Adhikaar Andolan (BAA) will appeal this order and will not be mute spectator to the spectre of terror to be unleashed in the forest areas.
We urge political parties to oppose this and not fall victim to the malicious propaganda of the wild life groups and rather engage in effective implementation of FRA. As the General Elections approach, there is a need for open political debate on intentional non-implementation of FRA by the government agencies, in connivance with corporate forces and so-called wild life protection groups.
It is to be noted that as per the provisions of the Act under section 12 that Gram Sabha has supreme power over a number of committees and their recommendations along with that of the Forest Rights Committees have precedence over the technical ‘rejections’ by the district and other committees.
Other committees at sub-division or district level can only ask for reviewing these claims. The Court seems to have overlooked this critical point. In absence of the Union government’s lawyer in various hearings the details and processes of recognition and rejection of claims has been overlooked and the affidavits filed by the State governments have not been thoroughly discussed and looked into.
The absence of the government’s lawyer during the hearings only reinforces the predominance of colonial mindset against forest people in this legal process and how the government views their rights and welfare.
This order, if followed, can become a pretext for forest officials to attack lakhs of forest dwellers across the country, preventing which was the very purpose for enacting the law. This Act was enacted in order to remedy the historical injustice committed by the colonial rulers as well as after independence against the country's forest dwellers.
The last time country-wide evictions took place was in 2002-04, by an order issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government (that too with a passing reference to a non-existent Supreme Court order of November 23, 2001) in giving a wrong impression that evictions had been ordered by the Supreme Court to all the state and union territories.
It was stated that approximately 12.50 lakh hectares of forest land is under encroachment and that "all encroachments which are not eligible for regularisation should be summarily evicted in a time bound manner and in any case not later than September 30, 2002."
Is another historic injustice about to be committed against them yet again? At least two thirds of the country's forest lands are tribal lands under the Vth Schedule of the constitution. The implementation of this order will definitely see more unrest in various parts across India which will be leading to the impoverishment of the tribals and other forest dwelling communities.
With this draconian order, even the status of right holders, who have already received the rights will be endangered. In all probability they would also be attacked by the forest department and by the mafias engaged by the companies.
It needs to be noted that the historic Kisan Long March to Mumbai undertaken by farmers and adivasis last year, and happening even now, as we write this, also raised the large scale irregularities in the settlement of claims under FRA.
Communities across the country are still struggling to ensure proper implementation of the Act since governments have not shown any political will and made every attempt to dilute the law and also violate it in name of development and conservation.
Forest Rights Alliance - Bhumi Adhikar Andolan condemns the lackadaisical attitude of the NDA government and demands effective implementation of the FRA and subvert any attempt at diluting the law and stop from proceeding to forced evictions in light of the current Supreme Court law.
We also demand that government issue an Ordinance in larger interest of protecting rights of forest dwellers to stop any evictions in the name of implementing the Supreme Court order and prevent attempts of further harassment.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

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.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”