CSD, Odisha organizes Protest Rally Demanding scraping of Anti-FRA laws and recognition of community rights in the State

Bhubaneswar: Thousands of adivasis and forest dwellers across the state mostly from tribal regions of Odisha marched in protest rally on 28th Sept under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Digmity(CSD), Odisha at Lower PMG, Bhubaneswar. Raising their serious concern against anti-tribal and forest dwellers laws like Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 (commonly known as CAMPA) and Draft National Forest Policies 2018, CSD demanded their repeal. Addressing the august gathering of more than 7000 people. Gopinath Majhi, the State CSD Convenor said,’ Such policies are the organized conspiracy of the Central Govt. to take away the forest rights of the forest dwellers recognized under historic FRA, 2006”. “It is regretted that even after 10 years of FRA implementation in the State, the community rights recognition has been very poor due to obstacles and challenges created by the State Forest Department” he further Said. Prafulla Samantara, the winner of the Green Nobel prize lambasted the Govt. of Odisha for its anti-Tribal policy and said, “While the Govt. of Odisha claiming to be No.1 in issuing highest Individual titles in the country, the reality is that most of these titles are not verified in the ground leading to serious conflict in future.”  He called upon the Govt. of Odisha to immediately correct them in the presence of the members of the Gram Sabha by pursing ground verification followed by RoR correction.”  Attacking the Modi government in the Centre, Pradeep Sahu, the senior CSD members said, “All the tribals and forest dwellers of the country are watching the anti-tribal policy of the Central Govt. and they will definitely teach a lesson to it in the next general election to be held in 2019. The protest Rally was followed by a public meeting at the Lower PMG presided by Narendra Mohanty, core body members of CSD. Among others who addressed in the public meeting are, Anna Kujjur, Suresh Panigrahi, Karmi Besra, Balraju Gemel, Trilochan Punji, Radhakanta Sethi, Akhya Pani, Sala Marndi, Lochan Bariha, Bijaya Upaddhyay, Pradipta Nayak, Kamal Saimajhi, Sandeep Pattnayak, Bijay Swain, Biranchi Bariha and others.  At the end of the programme, a  of delegation from CSD met and submitted memorandum to Governor and Chief Secretary, Govt of Odisha. The important demands put forth in the memorandum by CSD, Odisha before the Governor and Govt, of Odisha are;1. Repeal Anti-environment and anti-people Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 that enacted to reverse and wither away the forest rights recognised under FRA,2006.2. Withdraw MoEF&CC guideline (F.No.11-423/2011- FC, of 8 Nov. 2017) creating “land banks” from revenue and degraded forest land to raise compensatory afforestation. 3. Not to bypass the “authority” of gramsabhas in FRA implementation but need to empowerment gramsabha in campaign mode. 4. Withdraw of anti-conservation and anti-tribal draft National Forest Policy, 2018 proposed by MoEF&CC, Govt. of India. This is anti-FRA and Anti-environment, would destroy India’s forest by handing over to private Companies for management. 5. Withdraw 28 March 2017 order of National Tiger Conservation Authority illegally issued to subvert FRA in Tiger Habitat and forcing eviction of adivasis from their ancestral land for wildlife conservation.6. Stop diversion of rich biodiversity areas for development projects such as mines, industry, dams, etc to avoid destruction of wildlife habitats and increase human-animal conflicts. 7. Allow gramsabhas for “free trade and issue transit permit” by printing their own permit book as per FRA and strict penal action against officials creating illegal obstruction in exercise of their rights over minor forest produce (MFP) . 8. Review and monitoring of the progress of FRA implementation by State level (SLMC) to SDLC and DLC levels regularly. 9. Withdraw the anti-FRA and anti-people JFMC/ VSS resolution and dissolve all VSS in Odisha. Mandatory approval of gramsabha for any forestry activities within community forest resource areas of gramsabhas.10. Strict instruction for SDLC and DLC to accept claims and recognize the IFR of OTFDs with special priority and accept recommendation of gramsabhas. 10. Capacity building of line department officials and gramsabhas on procedures and guidelines issued by Revenue Dept., Board of Revenue for conversion of forest, un-surveyed villages into revenue villages. 11. IFR and CFR rights in mining areas are withdrawn and not recognized for eligible claimants. Need monitoring of FRA violation in mining areas of Odisha and respect gramsabha decision during forest land diversion process. 12. Urgently instruct the Collectors to facilitate the process to recognize habitat rights of PVTGs and dispose of long pending habitat rights claims immediately by issue of titles. 13. Lack of better budgetary allocation in capacity building of gramsabhas at village level and line dept officials constrained smooth implementation of FRA looks conspiracy of systematic suppression of FRA.