IFR titles holder Tribals of Malkangiri in Odisha allege harassment by the Forest Officials

Malkangiri: When the Odisha Government/ FRA Sub-Divisional Committee (SDLCs) across the state have started acting upon the rejected Individual Forest Rights(IFR) claims after the 13th Feb Supreme Court eviction Order which is temporarily stayed on 28th Feb by the SC and informing the IFR claimants whose claims have been rejected, disturbing news coming from Chitrakonda block of Malkangiri district. The IFR title holders have alleged of harassment by the forest officials and forcible attempt to evict them from the forest land where they have got IFR title under Forest Rights Act, 2006. They have also alleged to have severely beaten up by the forest officials. The local dallies, Sambad reports that on 30th May tribals have filed FIR against the forest officials including forester in the local Chitrakonda police station. It is reported that many tribal families s i.e. Gadaba, Kandh etc. from Anakateli areas of undivided Koraput district had come to work as laborers in the Balimela irrigation project and had settled cleaning the forest area coming under Padapadar Panchayat in Chitrokonda block. Later on the forest settlement was named as Baiguda village. Right now there are 9 tribal families living in that village and depending on the forest land for their livelihood. In between they have cleared forest and are cultivating those lands. After the enactment of the forest rights act, 2006, they have also issued Individual forest rights title over those forest lands.
However, the villagers have complained of harassment by the forest officials. It is alleged that on 28th May the local forester along with other forest guards came to the village and called Bhima Khila, Singana Pangi, Purna Khara and Laxmi Khara. Showing respect to the Govt. officials the community people offered chairs to them. However, keeping aside the respect shown, the forest officials started scolding the tribals and threaten them and asked them to leave the village within five days. The community people prayed them saying that they have been living in that village from last so many years and questioned now where they would go living the village. However, it was alleged that without listening the people, the forest officials started beating up them. The aggrieved people have reported to have been filed complaint against the culprit forest officials in the Chitrakonda police station and have demanded the administration to enquiry into the matter. While the police reported to have been accepted the complaint, but have not filed FIR against the forest officials. Rather it is reported that the police have registered the complaint in the Station Dairy and have started investigating on the alleged harassment by the forest officials.
It is to be noted that, in its affidavits filed before the Supreme Court (on the question asked by the SC that what action have been taken against the IFR claimants whose claims have been rejected at different levels) the Govt. of Odisha has informed the SC Court that all the IFR rejected claims are under review process. Taking up this issue, Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha working on FRA in the State has apprised the Chief, Secretary, Chairman of the FRA State Level Monitoring Committee and the nodal STSC Development Dept. on the alleged violation and has demanded immediate investing on it and to take urgent action against the culprit forest officials.

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