Sundargarh: Thousands of tribals coming across the district today organized a public meeting at Bhawani playground ,marched in a protest rally around the Sundargarh city and gheroaed the district Collector office demanding implementation of 5th Scheduled, PESA Act 1996 and FRA, 2006 under the banner of Adivasi Mulniwasi Adhikar Surakshya Manch(AMASM) and Adivasi Mulabsi Bachao Manch, Sundargah(AMBM). They gave slogan like “Gram Sabha Sarkar Zindabad”, “Hamara Gaaon me Ham Sarkar”, “Jo Jamin Sarkari Hai Wo Zamin Hamari Hai”, “Ladenge Zitenge” etc.
Sri Halu Mundari(Ex-MLA) addressing the august gathering in front of the collector office said “Sundargarh district is fully a scheduled 5th district and its administration is different from other areas of the State and its administration is supposed to be directly done by the Governor of Odisha and by the President of India. However, in different periods of time, different State Governments and also the Central Government do not giving respect to the scheduled 5th status of the district and implementing the general laws and destroying the tribal’s tradition , culture badly affecting their live and livelihood”
Anil Ekka, young president of (AMASM) said “Hon’able Governor is all in all in the scheduled district and his superior is the Hon’ble President of India who is responsible for all the administration of the Scheduled 5th area and there is no role of Chief Minister of a State. All the land, forest, water and natural resources belong to us but the State Government along with the greedy bureaucrats and corporates determined to loot them pushing us towards starvation and depriving us from our own land. But now it won’t be so easier. We become aware of it and save our land giving our life if it is required.” He also targets the existing Panchayatiraj system and called upon the people to discard it and to establish PESA and FRA Gram Sabha in every village and to exercise the power of Gram Sabha in the coming days.
Joining the protest Rally George Tircky, the Biramitrapur MLA alleged that “the Govt. of Odisha is openly violating Section 243(m), 243(Z.C), Article 19(5). Besides, Govt of Odisha is also violating its own laws OSATIP Regulation 2, 1956 which strictly prohibits and bans from 2002 transfer of tribal lands to non- tribal in the scheduled 5th areas.” And since the Supreme Court of India considered both the State and Central Government as non-triba , OSATIP applies for them and they also cannot acquire patta land of the tribal in the scheduled district. “Targeting the Union Tribal Minister Jual Oaram and BJD MLA Mangala Kisaan George Tirkey said, “It is unfortunate that both the Union Minister and Local BJD tribal MLA are giving confusing statement on PESA Act, 1996.”
Sri Prafulla Majhi, MLA of Talsara questioned on the poor implementation of Forest Rights Act,2006 in the district even after 12 years of its enactment. Targeting the ruling BJD Govt. he said, “the State Govt. has totally failed implement the Act in its true spirit resulting no community rights has been recognized in the district. While the FRA empowers the gram sabha, the district administrators has usurped upon the power of gram sabha and mislead the community. Hand in gloves with the Companies, the district administration have illegally cancelled whatever Individual forest rights titles issued to the tribals in the coal mines areas of Hemgiri Tahasli depriving from their genuine rights. “While no Gram Sabha has given any written consent with 50 per cent quorum as happened in Niyamgiri case for the diversion of forest land for NTPC and OPGC/OCPL, MCL coal mines, how these companies have got forest clearance, environment clearance etc.” He alleged.
Tej Kumari Minz raised the issue of land loot by public sector companies and said, “When all the land and forest belong to the tribals, how everywhere non tribals have occupied over them? How the Forest Department dare to stop us to use forest produces, why after FRA still VSS still there in our villages?? This is because of the Govt. of Odisha. It is behaving like a step mother with the tribals and this has forced the local tribals to leave their homes and villages and to migrate to other areas in search of jobs, pushing them towards immoral human trafficking. The most important sorry affair is now the decreasing population of tribals in the district from 60 per cent (from last 3 decades) to 50.75 per cent in the last 2011 Census.”
Tribal Leader, Letha Tircky highlighting the progressive provisions of PESA Act and FRA, 2006, said “It is unfortunate that even after passing of 21 years of the central PESA, Act in 1996, the Central Govt. has failed to implement the act in the ground now what can be expected after Modi led BJP is in the Central Govt.” he doubted.” “The Govt. is totally blind towards the history Supreme Court’s Judgments i.e., Samata in 1997, Jagpalsingh vs Govt. of Punjab in 2011 and historic Niyamgiri judgment in 2013.” He said.
Tribal leader Sipriyan Kindo citing the Supreme Court observation said “Neither the Lok Sabha nor the Rajya Sabha, Gram Sabha is above all” and based on this we have lunched “Patthar Gadi” campaign in all the villages which is based on PESA Act and Govt. should not fear of it. He further alerted the administration to refrained from disturbing it.
It is to be noted that Sundargah district is a fully a scheduled 5th district with full of natural resources including mineral resources and from last five years Adivasi Mulniwasi Adhikar Surakshya Manch(AMASM) and Adivasi Mulabsi Bachao Manch, Sundargah(AMBM) protesting against the anti-PESA and anti-FRA policy of the Govt. Despite Sundagrah bandh called today by Citizen Forum against hike in toll gate fees, the huge gathering clearing pointing out the serious dissatisfaction amongsts the tribals of Sundargarh.
At the end of the protest march, they gheaored the collector office for long 3 hours and submitted 18 pages memorandums to the Governor marking a copy to the president of India. A 12 member’s delegation from AMASM and (AMBM) met and discussed on their demands with the district Collector. The district Collecotr has assued the Tribals to resolve the issued raisedinthe public meetingb. Among others Dillip Lehari, Patrash Ekka, Haran Bage, Arthar Soren, Sushil Lakra and others addressed the huge gathering.