Lok Adhikar Yatra collectively agreed upon supremacy of Gram Sabha in taking any village level decision

odishaBy Manohar*


The Odisha Lok Adhikar Yatra, lunched by Khaya Adhkar Abhiyan, Odisha, on December 13, ended on December 17 at Sambalpur, after visiting different places in four districts i.e Malkangiri, Kandhamal, Keunjhar and Kalahandi.

The Lok Adhikar Yatra has so far covered 17 districts and organised a series of meetings, cultural/folk shows, people’s interactions on the way during the Yatra and gathered various issue raised by the community people. The Yatra also made people aware on the dilution of pro-people legislations by the Central government, including the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the budget cuts in social security programmes, such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), midday meal scheme, Integrated Child Development Scheme, maternity benefit schemes, etc.

“Ladhabu and Jitamu – We will fight, we will win” was the main slogan during the whole Yatra. Around ten thousands leaflets on various issues and demands were circulated during the Lok Adhikar Yatra.

In the concluding session of the Lok Adhikar Yatra, the four groups which participated in it reached at Sambalpur and organised a mass meeting at Sakhipada Church at Sambalpur. Around 300 community people across the state gathered for the mass meeting and discussed on the violations of different rights ensured under the constitution.

Bidyut Mohanty from the organising team of the Khadya Adhikar Abhijan (KAA), welcoming all the participants of the mass meeting, shared the objectives of the Lok Adhikar Yatra. “The objective of the Lok Adhikar was to create mass awareness on the various pro -people rights, i.e   NFSA, MGNREGS, FRA, PDS and Sarva Siskhya Abhijan etc, recognised in the last decade and to directly gather various implementation issues from the community people from the zero-ground”, he said.

Raj Kishore Mishra, member of the KAA read out the various issues raised and demands made during the Lok Adhikat Yatra. He said, “The National Food Rights Campaign along with the other rights groups consistently fought for enactment of National Food Security Act, 2013. However, the 5 kg rice/wheat per head is insufficient to meet the food needs of a person”. He demanded ration card under NFSA should be issued to all the eligible families as soon as possible.”

The four team leaders of the Lok Adhikar Yatra, i.e Arun Prashad Dehudi (Kandhamal), Ramesh Sahu (Keonjhar), Ritick Mohapatra (Kalahandi) and Jagannath (Malkangiri) shared on the details of the yatra routs programmes and issues on various rights being violated and discovered during the four days yartra. Arun Prashad Dehudi sharing the ground realities of FRA in the Kandhamal, Boudh, Subarnapur district said, “It is true that thousands of IFR titles have been issued in these districts but it is also true that most of these IFR titles are issued without field verification.”

Ritick Mohapatra sharing the ration card distributed in recent past under NFSA in Kalhandi, Bolangir, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Nuapada said, “While the genuine deserving families have been left out, well to do families have got the ration card”.

Ramesh Sahu sharing the ground status of MGNREGS said, “Over the period, the communities have been discouraged to demand for work due to late payment and in many places violating the laws, machine has been used rampantly.”

Jagannath shared the plights of the displaced families due to various Government Projects in Koraput, Malkangiri and Rayagarda districts and demanded no land acquisition without the consent of all the families of the concern Gram Sabhas.

Lingaj Pradhan, the western Odisha farmer’s leader, Manohar Chauhan, member Campaign and Survival and Dignity(CSD), Shiba Prashad Nanda, the senior Journalist, and Saswat Pujhari, lecturer of Sambalpur University joined as guest speakers on the Occasion.

Remembering the contribution of Dr BR Ambedkar and BD Sharma, Lingraj said both of them died on December 6. Talking on the farmer suicides he said, “A day was there when we were talking of starvation death, now we are talking of farmers suicide”. He demanded ‘salary and pension’ for all the small farmers and share croppers of the state.

Manohar Chauhan, Member, CSD sharing the status of FRA implementation in the State discussed on how the Dongaria Kondh tribal used FRA won the battle against Vedanta Company and Govt. of Odisha over Niyamgiri Hill. He called upon the participants of the Mass meeting to establish “Gram Sabha Sarkar” in the line of FRA Gram sabha in every village and to challenge the on-going Panchayati Raj system which he called is the farce in the name of decentralisation of democracy.”

All the participants of the Lok Adhikar Yatra and mass meeting collectively agreed upon the “Supremacy of the Gram Sabha” in taking any decision at the village level and its decision should be the final and binding upon the State Government and the Central Governments.

Besides, Kishor Chandra Debata, Secretary of Padampur Kissan Vikash Parishad and Uaday Sigh Thakur of Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad addressed in the mass meeting. The mass meeting ended with vote of thanks to all participants by Narayan Jena, member of KAA.

*With Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha


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