Odisha Tribals and Forest Dwellers Protested against State Apathy in Implementing FRA in True Spirit

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Bhubaneswar: Hundreds of tribals and Forest dwellers under the banner of Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD) marched in a protest Rally and protested against the State Govt. for violating Forest Rights Act in the State. The protest rally started from Master Canteen and marched towards Lower PMG where a public meeting was organised. The protesters gave slogan i.e. “Gram Sabha Sarkar Zindabad”, “Gosti Adhikar Aamar Dabi”, “Samasta Swikruti Praptya jungle Jami Chinhata Kara”, “Ana Adibasi ra Byaktigat jungle Adhikar Ku Mannyata Dia”, “Jungle Gaaon ku Rajaswa Gaaon re Parinata Kara”. Chasa Jamire brukshya ropan Banda karo,” Kendu Ptra upara Gaaon ku Malikana Adhira Dia” VSS ku radda kara …etc.

Sharing the objective of the protest March, Gopinath Majhi, the CSD, Odisha Convenor said “the protest march is organised to protest against the Forest Department for doing plantation over the occupied forest lands in different districts and for launching anti-FRA “Ama Jubgle Yojana”, “Banayana” and JICA Project. It is organised to counter the Navin Patnaik who is misguiding the forest dwellers of the State by seeking amendment in FRA, it is organised to protest against the non-recognition of Community Forest Rights in the State, it is organised to protest against the Odisha Govt. for not allowing 6 gram sabhas in Golamunda block of Kalahandi district to do independent business of the Kendu leaf.”

Pradeep Sahoo, senior Member of the CSD, Addressing the Rally said, “ While the Govt. of Odisha is claiming to be No.1 State in the country, in the last 8 years of FRA implementation the State Government has undermined the authority of the “Gram Sabha Sarkar” and have haphazardly issued IFR titles without demarcation to tribals only. Questioning the statement recently made by Navin Patnaik, he said “as per the FRA SLMC Report by 30th April 2017, 1042 IFR claims of OTFDs have been approved at the DLC levels and 628 OTFDs have issued IFR titles including 555 in Sundargarh 15 in Angul, 11 in Rayagarda and 47 in Malkangiri districts. If OTFDs of these districts are eligible under FRA, 2006, how OTFDs living in other districts are ineligible? CSD had made the State bureaucrats responsible for the low recognition of IFR rights to the OTFDs in the State.

Mrs. Anna Kujur from Sundargarh criticizing the Govt. Machinery said “most of the CFR claims filed by Gram Sabha are mostly pending at the SDLCs for years together in all districts and not it is disappointing that the State Govt. is openly violating FRA by introducing anti-FRA schemes and programmes like “Aama Jungle Yojana”, “Banayana” and JICA project and promoting anti-FRA VSS”

Hiralal Majhi of Nuapada district also criticized the State Forest Department for forcible planation on cultivable forest land and relocating tribals from sanctuaries. It has also condemned the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for its circulars restricting FRA implementation in Tiger Reserves and demanded for its immediate withdrawal. CSD also urged the Govt. to review all the 1,49,150 rejected IFR claims and pending cases and have emphasized on RoR correction of the forest land recognized under IFR and CFR and for recognition of Habitat rights of 13 PTGs living in the State.

CSD has also raised serious concern over forging gram sabha resolution by district administration during diversion of forest land for non-forestry projects. Besides, it has reiterated its demand to bring suitable Changes CAMPA Fund Act in conformity with FRA, 2006.

To protect the interest of the tribals living in scheduled 5th areas, CSD has urged the Govt. of Odisha to implement the Central PESA Act, 1996 and to reform the Panchayatiraj system with the provision of FRA Gram Sabha in all villages.

At Lower PMG a public meeting was organized and was presided by Narendra Monahti. Besides CSD member, senior journalist Rabi Das, Suresh Panigrahi, Radhakanta Sethi, Biswpriya Kanungo, Sekh Abdul Wali, Pradidta Nayak etc addressed the Rally. After the protest rally CSD, Odisha submitted a 16 points memorandum to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha and have requested him to monitor the FRA implementation in the State.

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