Bhubaneswar: Thousands of tribals and forest Dwellers under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha marched in a protest Rally in Bhubaneswar demanding dismissal of 13th Feb Supreme Court’s eviction Order from Forest land. The Protest Rally was started from Master Canteen at 11.00 am. with slogans “BJP Sarkar Jawab Do!” and “BJD Sarkar Hos me Aao!, ‘Gram Sabha sarkar Zindabad!, “Supreme Court ra 13th Feb adivasi birodhi Adesh ku radd karo”, “Abedan hoithiba samasta jungle jami ku verification karo”etc. In the protest rally, more than 7000 tribals and forest Dwellers from different districts participated and marched in the State Capital followed by a public meeting at Lower PMG where representatives of different Sangathans affiliated to the CSD put forth their demands.
The CSD, Odisha protest rally targeted both the BJP Govt. at the Centre and BJD Govt. in the State for violating FRA, 2006 and for their anti-tribals and forest dwellers attitude. Gopinath Majhi, the State Convenor of the CSD, Odisha sharing the objective of the protest Rally said, “Today protest rally is being organised to show the discontent and anger amongst the tribal and forest dwellers of the State on the 13th Feb Supreme Court’s eviction Order which is the result of the lackadaisical attitude of Central Govt. which failed to properly defend the FRA in the Supreme Court.”
“ We do not want temporary relief of 28th Feb SC Stay order and we want complete dismissal of the 13th Feb Order.” He said. Targeting the BJP Govt. at the Centre, CSD said, “We observed that from the beginning of coming into the power, the BJP Govt. at the Centre is working against the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006. It brought anti-FRA, anti-tribals and forest dwellers CAMPA fund Act, 2016, Anti-FRA-National Forest Policy, 2018 and have diverted 20,000 hectares of forest land for no-forest uses in between 2015-2018 bypassing the gram sabha. Now the 13th Feb 2019 Supreme Court eviction Order is an anti-tribals and forest dwellers is because of the failure on the part of the central Govt. to defend the FRA in the Court”,
Giving clarification of the implication of 13th Feb SC eviction Order in the State, CSD said, “Since most of 4, 22,384 IFR titles said to have been issued in the State are issued in a haphazard manner without ground verification leading to less area and partial recognition, along with the 1,45, 567 rejected IFR claimants, all the titles holders will also be evicted from forest land. Besides, when eviction will start, it will also evict those who despite their occupation over forest land for generations and have failed to file their IFR claims till date. Thus if the 13th Feb Order of the SC is implemented in the State there will be mass eviction of lakhs of tribal and forest dwellers in the State” Targeting the BJD Govt. in the State, CSD said, While the Odisha Govt. always claiming to be No.1 in the country in issuing highest number of IFR titles, in reality it has done a big mess of FRA implementation in the state. It has used the “Recognition Act as land distribution scheme” and has bypassed the gram sabha in the whole FRA implementation process ”. “No IFR claimant have been informed on the rejection of its claim, depriving lakh of IFR claimants in filing appeal at the appropriate level, the Govt. officials at the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC) have arbitrarily rejected IFR claims of STs and OTFDs and have put all blame upon the gram sabhas in the State. OTFDs have denied to file their IFR claims in many districts and most of the IFR titles have been issued without ground verification. While 40, 000 villages are eligible to get community rights over forest, there is very poor recognition of community rights in the State” CSD alleged.
“We demand let all the so-called rejected, approved and pending IFR claims to be sent back to the concerned Gram Sabhas for reconsideration and appropriate action as per Rule-12A(6) FRA Rules-2012” CSD demanded.
“Forest Rights Act, 2006 authorizes gram sabha as the authority of all the common property resources including forest and thus gram sabha is the real authority to decide on what would be done with those land and it is not the State Govt, nor the Central Govt. nor the Supreme Court to decide on it,” CSD held.
It is to be noted that on 13th Feb 2019, the Supreme Court of India giving its interim order on the case directed the Chief Secretary of different State Governments to evict all claimants from forest land whose IFR claims have been rejected within 27th July 2019. Thus after this Order there is hue and cry across the country in its protest. “Today’s protest is the part of national wide protest called by CSD, the Campaign which struggled and played a vital role in the enactment of the Forest Right Act by the parliament of India in 2006”. CSD, Odisha said. Among other gusets who addressed in the public meeting are Prafulla Samantara, Bhakta Charan Das, George Tiekey, Narayan Reddy, Radhakanta Sethy, Biswapriye Kanungo etc.At the end of the protest Rally, CSD, Odisha submitted memorandum to the Governor of Odisha, Chief Minister of Odisha and to the President of India through the Governor putting forth the following 12 points demands;
1. Dismiss the anti-tribal and anti-forest dwellers Supreme Court Order dated13th February, 2019.2. Scrap Anti- FRA Campa Fund Act-2016 and National Forest Policy-2018.3. Bring amendments in all acts and rules like Bio diversities Act-2002, Wildlife Protection Act-1972, Forest Conservation Act-1980, Indian Forest Act-1927, Coal Bearing Act-1957 and all forest policy related to Minor Forest Produces etc. which have been main hindrance in the implementation of FRA-2006.4. No diversion of Forest Land for Non-Forest Activities without proposal and recognition of Gram Sabhas.
Demands before the State Government: 5. Send back all so-called rejected, approved and pending IFR claims to the concerned Gram Sabhas, the real authority for reconsideration and appropriate action as per Rule-12A(6) FRA Rules-2012.6. Stop correction of ROR of Forest Lands issued without demarcation7. Stringent Action must be taken against the Government Officials who have discouraged and deprived Other Traditional Forest Dwellers to file their IFR in different districts, arbitrarily documentary evidence have been prioritised and oral evidence of elders bypassed, 629 issued IFR titles have been cancelled in Sundargarh district. 8. Recognise the Community Forest Rights over forest resources as per 3(1)(i) of FRA-2006 & respect the Forest Protection Management Committee formed under Sec-4(e) of FRA Rules-2007 and dissolve V.S.S form under JFM.9. Identify all forest/un-surveyed villages falling in reserve forest area and convert them into revenue villages.10. Withdraw all forest offence cases filed against tribal and forest dwellers using different sections of Indian Forest Act, 1927, FCA, 1980 and WLP Act, 1972 before and after FRA- 2006.11. We demand Panchyat in every village, 70% quorum of the Gram Sabha, no representation of government official in any executive body of the Gram Sabha and direct flow of all funds to the Gram Sabhas. 12. We demand to inform the Campaign(CSD) what action have been taken based under the direction of Honourable Governor of Odisha (Vide Reference Number-CN/47/2018, Memo No- 5679SG/Dated 6.10.18) to the Chief Secretary of Odisha on the memorandum submitted by CSD, Odisha dated 28th September, 2018.