By Campaign for Survival and Dignity
Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), the national level platform of the tribals and forest dwellers across the States which struggled for the enactment of historic Forest Right Act, 2006 organised its National Convention on “Forest Rights Struggle: Towards A Nationwide Self-Assertion of Forest Dwellers” at Institute of Engineers, Bhubaneswar on 28th September 2016.
Around four hundred participants including participants from different States i.e. Chhatigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Himachal Pradesh etc. across the States joined the convention and took oath to take over the forest using forest right act and PESA act. Activist and leaders of the struggles groups fighting to save their land and forest also joined the CSD Convention.
Gopinath Majhi, Convenor, CSD, Odisha sharing the objective of the Convention said “the objective behind holding the CSD National Convention in Odisha was to discuss more on FRA implementation issues in the State where Govt. claims to be No.1 to have issued highest number of individual forest rights (IFR) titles. However, 90% of the Individual forest rights titles said to have been issued in the State are without ground verification”
“While the FRA recognizes pre-existing rights in which the Gram sabha recognises as the authority to vest upon these rights over the rights holders, the Government of Odisha has implemented it as land distribution scheme bypassing Gram Sabha. Besides, despite FRA, the forest Department continues to run its jungle raj over forest and forest dwellers of the State.” CSD alleged.
It is to be noted that As per the latest report of Ministry of tribal Affairs, till 31st July, 2016, in total 41,82,806 (40,72,241 individual and 1,10,565 community) forest rights claims reported to have been filed at the Gram Sabha level out of which 16,84,627 (16,40,160 individual and 44,467 community) titles reported to have been issued over 1,02,13,949.20 (56,68,591 IFR and 45,45,358 CFR) acres of forest and around 19, 70,991 forest rights claims have been reported rejected in 19 States i.e Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhnada, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Telengana,Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal etc.
Likewise in Odisha as per the report of State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC), Govt of Odisha, by 31st July, 2016 in total 6,12,944 Individual Forest Rights (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 3,83,368 IFR titles have been issued over 5,83, 886 acres of forest land. Besides, 1,69,901 IFR claims have been rejected in the State. The SLMC also reports that by 31st July 2016, in total 13,315( 8167 in B and 5148 in C) community forest rights claims have been filed and 5221( 3042 in annexure III and 2179 IV) CFR titles have been issued over 3,35,599 acres of forest land.
CSD claims that “by this time, forest rights over only 10 per cent of the total forest land to be recognised under FRA, 2006 has been done. FRA is not implemented in some States and wherever implemented it is most often wrong and incomplete. Besides, FRA violations are rampant in many parts of the States.”
“Many progressive rights recognised under FRA i.e. conversion of forest and un-surveyed villages into revenue villages, recognition of PVTG rights over their Habitat, ownership rights over Minor forest produce specially Kendu leaf and Bamboo and RoR correction has been yet to be started in many states. “We have seen that the central government and many states have repeatedly tried to dilute and subvert FRA by enacting new laws like CAF Act, 2016 and through many administrative actions. In fact, FRA implementation has slowed down and rapidly coming to a standstill.” CSD alleged. Thus all these implementation issues are targeted to be discussed in the convention.
Pradip Prabhu joining the convention called upon the tribals and Forest dwellers to take over forest under their control using Forest Rights Act, 2006. The leaders of the States shared the updated of FRA and issues in their respective States. Among others who addressed the convention are Lok Sakti Abhijan president, Prafulla Samatara, Senor Journalist Rabi Das etc.
In the convention the leaders of the Gram Sabhas of Bolangir districts who dissolved VSS formed by Forest Department using FRA, 2006 were felicitated.
Major Demands From the Central Govt.
- Ensure the Authority and Power of the Gram Sabha recognised under Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the Rules to be framed under CAMPA Fund Act, 2016. Ensure that the gram sabha would be the decision maker in case of plantation or any activities to be carried using CAMPA fund within the Community Forest Resource Area.
- Halt the JFM Resolution, 1990 and respect the Gram Sabha as the “Authority” of the forest.
- Halt illegal diversion of forest land without gram sabha consent and prosecute the officials responsible.
- Respect the power of the gram sabha in all laws on land acquisition and forests. All planning, change of use and activities in forests should be subject to the powers of the gram sabha.
Major Demands From the Govt. of Odisha
- Respect the Gram Sabha as the authority of the village duly recognised under Forest Rights Act, 2006.
- Identify hundreds of forest and un-surveyed villages, form FRC recognising Gram Sabha there and convert them into Revenue Villages.
- Help gram sabhas to demarcate forest land recognised under individual Forest Rights Act in the State.
- Recognised the IFR rights of the OTFDs duly recommended and approved by Gram Sabhas.
- Produce village wise list of the IFR title to ascertain no of villages covered under Forest Rights Act, 2006 till date.
- Widespread the awareness campaign on FRA specially on Community Forest rights across the State.
- Stop giving false information on the CFR rights recognised in State and validate them with ground realities.
- Stop evicting tribals and forest dwellers from their habitats and land under cultivation though Tiger Projects and Plantation. Stop relocation of community from Similipal Tiger Reserve.
- Dissolve all Vana Suraskhya Samiti(VSS)/EDC/Ama Jungle Yojana(AJY) violating Forest Rights Act.
- Recognise PTG rights over their Habitat duly recognised under FRA.
- Recognise Ownership rights over Minor Forest Produce and stop taking royalty on Kendu Leaf and Bamboo.
- Make correction and consolidation of Record of Rights(RoR) of the forest land recognised under IFR and CFR in the State.
- Drop all forest cases filed against tribals and forest dwellers after the enactment of FRA, 2006.