Implementation of constitutional provision to establish PESA, FRA in tribal villages neglected

tribalordishaAn account of two day training programme on “Governance of Schedule 5th Area” organised by Adivasi Darbar on July 2-3 at Jatrinivas, Bhubaneswar:

Around 250 tribals from all the 62 tribes, 119 ITDA Blocks, 46 Modified Areas Development Approach (MADA) and 21 Clustered Villages etc., across the State participated. Adya Gamango (Thophil), the convenor of Indigenous People’s Forum Odisha welcoming the participants shared the objective of the two days programme.

In the programme detail deliberation on the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) (PESA), Act 1996, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition) of Forest Rights Act 2006, the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP),  The Land Acquisition and Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 and the Human Right Law etc. were made and discussed.

On 2nd July, inaugurating programme, Gorge Tirkey, the tribal MLA from Sundargarh district said “we regret that the implementation of the Constitutional provisions meant for tribals and tribal areas have been neglected, we have been consistently deprived, marginalized, excluded from our constitutional safeguards and basic human rights as citizen of the country by the State Governments.” He further criticised the Govt. of Odisha for its anti-tribal policies and said “while all the land and resources in the tribal areas belongs to tribal how can the Govt. bring the draconian “Odisha Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2015” and deprived us from our  homes and create Land Bank to hand over them to the private companies.”

Senior Journalist Ravi Das joining the inaugural session remembered the contribution of the tribals in the freedom struggle and said, it is a fact that the constitutional provisions meant for tribal i.e. the provision of Schedule 5th Areas, the PESA Act, 1996, FRA Act, 2006, the Tribal Sub Plan, POA Act 1989 etc. are not being implemented in its true spirit by all the successive governments. Prafulla Samnatara, President of Lok Sakti Abhijan addressing the gathering criticised the Navin Govt. in the State for violating the constitutional laws of the tribals and for promoting anti tribal policies like Panchaytiraj system, Vana Surakhya Samiti etc and for allowing private companies in tribal areas creating war like situations. etc.”

Nicolas Barla of Indigenous People’s Forum Odisha (IPFO) said, “Odisha government has failed to implement Central PESA Act from last 20 years. The State is treating us step motherly manner.” He further questioned the role of Governor who has been the constitutional head of the tribals and scheduled area.

Chief Guest on the occasion Mr. Debendra Champia, the Ex. Speaker of Bihar Assembly discussed on the historical background of the Tribal Advisory Council(TAC) which he said inherited it’s power from the Government India Act,1935. He gave the Britishers credits for the constitutional provision of Scheduled 5th and Scheduled 6th area. He also called the Chairmanship of non–tribal in TAC as unconstitutional and called upon the tribal to protest against it.

In the programme, detailed deliberation was made by Niklash Barlaon on PESA, on TSP by Gyana Sagar Nayak, on FRA by Manohar Chauhan, member, Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), on Conversion of Forest villages and Minimum Support Price of Minor Forest Produce by Pushpanjali Sathapathy, Vasundhara etc.

In the second day of the programme, all the participants discussed district specific problems. They collectively identified that by extending the Panchayatiraj system in the scheduled 5th area, Govt. has committed a serious crime against the tribals and have ruined the tribal area. They realised that in the Panchayatiraj system, there is no recognition of their village, they do not have rights to hold gram sabha as and when they want, they do not have the rights to fix the agenda of the Gram Sabha meeting, record their resolution, keep the gram sabha register etc. After detailed discussion they vow to establish “Gram Sabha Sarkar” in the line of PESA, 1996 and FRA, 2006 in every village and discard the on-going Panchayatiraj system.

The Adivasi Darbar also discussed on role of tribal MPs and MLAs and is of the view that these MPs and MLAs in true sense are  not as tribal representatives but as the Party representative who hardly bothers for anti-tribal policies of the Govt. of Odisha.  Adivasi Darbar called upon all the tribal across the State to unit and to fight against the anti-tribal policies keeping aside party politics.

Besides, The Adivasi Darbar insisted to constitute District Autonomous Council (DAC in the pattern of VI Scheduled of the Constitution as is stated in PESA 4 (O), to remind the constitutional power of the Governor in scheduled area through rally and dharana, suggested for “Scheduled Area Administrative Service commission” in the State, to fight for the inclusion of all non-scheduled Adibasi dominated areas i.e. MADA, Clustered Villages, Dispersed Tribal Development Programme [DTDP], etc into scheduled area, to fight for inclusion of all left out tribals into scheduled Tribe list.

Among others, Sudarshan Kahara, Augustus Lugun, Letha Tirkey, Bironchi, Veronica Mrs. Damayanti Kumura were present in the programme.

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