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Include tribal issues in the election manifesto, urges NGO


Last updated Wednesday July 06, 2016

  Political Party, Election Manifesto, Tribal Right, PESA, FRA  
Like “Odisha Sarkar” and “Bharat Sarkar” there must be “Gram Sabha Sakar” with its jurisdiction over the human, land, water and forest resources. “All the decisions should be taken in the Gram Sabha meetings and they should not be left at the mercy of its “Representatives” or the “Executives.”  
HNF Correspondent  

Political Parties must include issues regarding forest right and areas under Schedule V of Indian Constitution in their Manifesto for the forthcoming general elections for Lok Sabha, lower house of Indian Parliament, and Odisha State Assembly, urged Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, an organization fights for the true implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA).

Citing that there are many loopholes in the existing PanchaytiRaj system in Odisha where the communities hardly have any role in the process of decision making as all powers have been vested with the Bureaucrats, the Forest Rights Campaign urged upon all political parties to make promises in their manifesto to strengthen the “Gram Sabha” (village meeting) by involving all its voters.


The tricky clauses set to favour the bureaucrats like: “Palli Sabha” can only be held at the Revenue Village despite of a number of bigger revenue hamlets, forest and un-surveyed hamlets attached to it; required “Quorum” of 10% for the Palli Sabha under the existing PanchayatiRaj system, and the clause to bypass the quorum for a next meeting in case of adjournment of a notified Palli Sabha for any reason etc. should be treated as mockery in the name of decentralization of democracy, urged CSD.

In a released issued by CSD, it is demanded that the present concept of “Palli Sabha only in a Revenue Village” should be replaced with “One village-One Gram Sabha” and “Hamlet level Gram Sabha.” The provision of more than 50% quorum of the gram Sabha as prescribed under FRA, 2006 and Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996 must be followed. CSD argued further that like “Odisha Sarkar” and “Bharat Sarkar” there must be “Gram Sabha Sakar” with its jurisdiction over the human, land, water and forest resources. “All the decisions should be taken in the Gram Sabha meetings and they should not be left at the mercy of its “Representatives” or the “Executives.”

Political parties should also come out with promises to protect the exclusivity of the Schedule V areas which comprise about 46% of the total geographical area of the State and are mostly populated with Scheduled Tribes. “The very objective of the Schedule V” of Indian Constitution has been to protect these areas from destructions and intrusion of the outsiders so that the rights of the tribals living in the area and their livelihood sources can be better protected. But, because of the rich forest and mineral deposits, these areas have become more venerable to outsider intrusions, land grabbing, land alienation and ecological destruction. CSD opted to bring more stringent laws to restrict further intrusion of outsiders in these areas by using Article-19 (1)(e) and 19(5) of the Constitution which empowers the State to take a bigger role for the interest of the tribals living in these areas.

CSD has also attempted to draw the attention of Political Parties to emphasize upon proper implementation of forest rights act, 2006 and PESA, 1996 in their true spirit to recognize and respect the community based protection and management of forest. It has urged to halt all the existing forestry programmes and projects that are against the spirit of FRA. The release has strongly opposed the plans for relocation of forest dwellers from Protected Areas (Sanctuary, National Parks and Tiger Reserves) in the name of Wildlife Protection without settling the rights. While insisting to ensure community ownership rights over Minor Forest Produces (MFPs) including Kendu Leaf and Bamboo, CSD in its release has also demanded to recognize the rights of PTG (Primitive Tribal Groups)/ PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) over their Habitat - the extended geographical areas cutting across villages, habitation and forest where they dwell and depend upon for their live and livelihood.


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