Deogarh: Adivasi Kalyan Sangha(AKS) Deogarh affiliated to Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha organised protest dharana on 2nd January in fort of Riamal Block office demanding proper implementation of historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the District.
Hundreds of tribals and forest dwellers gathered at block office on Monday and gave slogan against Forest Department and the district administration for their callousness towards implementing FRA in the district.
It is to be noted that Deogarh District is a small district having 2940 Sq Km(726180 acres) having 3 blocks(Riamal, Barkote and Tileibani) and comes under northern zone of Odisha. Recently, Tileibani has been declared as ITDA. There are 774 revenue villages in Deogarh District. Besides, based on the 2001 census report, the govt. of Odisha has identified more 12 forest villages/un-surveyed villages in the district. While the scheduled caste population constitutes 16.67 per cent scheduled tribe constitutes 35.33 per cent of the district population. The district has 53.07% forest land of its total geographical area. Of the total forest land, 62.93 per cent is Revenue Forest Land while rest 37.07% is Reserve Forest land.
As per the latest FRA status report produced by FRA District Level Committee(DLC) till Nov 2016, Forest Rights Committee(FRC) have been formed in 670 villages and in total 13817(10,290 of STs and 3527 OTFDs) Individual Forest Rights(IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level. Out of the total claims filed only 7036 IFR titles have been issued to STs only in the district over 3350 hectares(8375 acres) of forest land and the average forest land issued in the district has been 1.19 acres which is less than even State’s average. Besides, in the district, 521 Paudi Bhuinta PTG/PVTG have been issued IFR titles over 409.52 acres of forest land. Besides, it is reported that 5807(2280 of STs and all 3527 IFR claims of OTFDs) have been rejected in the district. It is also reported by DLC that by Nov 2016, only 185 CFR claims have been filed at the gram sabha level of which only 21 CFR claims have been approved by DLC and not a single CFR title has been issued in the district till date.
Addressing the gathering at the block office, Ramsingh Munda, the president of AKS said, “It is unfortunate that despite unique initiative of “community forestry” in the district, not a single village has been issued CFR in the district even after 10 years of FRA enactment.” He further said, “in spite of recognising the community rights over forest, the Forest Department arbitrarily hands in gloves with the district administration and NGOs forming Vana Suraskhya Samiities(VSS) which has lost its legality after FRA, 2006 though different forestry schemes i.e Ama Jungle Yojana and JICA project”.
Promod Dehudi General Secretary of AKS, Deogarh said, “While FRA recognises Gram Sabha(the village council) as “Gram Sabha Sarkar”, the whole FRA implementation process in the district has been dominated by the government officials at the SDLC and while no gram sabha rejects any IFR claims of any claimant, the SDLC officials have arbitrarily rejected 5807 IFR claims including all IFR claims filed by non-tribal forest dwellers in the district and all the blame have been illegally put upon on the gram sabhas.” He further said despite 53.07 of forest land available in the district, in most of the cases, demarcation of forest land issued under IFR has not been done leading to non- recognition of actual forest area under occupation, in many villages forest land reserved for military person has not been recognised despite under possession and cultivation of tribals and OTFDs. Many villages in the district are still un-aware of FRA and yet to file IFR and CFR claims in the district.” He sought details of village wise list of all the 7036 IFR titles reported to have been issued in the district so that actual coverage of FRA in the district can be traced out.
Bauri Sabar, Vice President of AKS criticising the administration to have continued feudal and Britishraj even after 70 years of India’s independence , said “due to lack of political will power at the leadership level and callousness at the administration, the status of the 35 per cent of tribals lagging behind in the district.”
Local Ex MLA Subash Chnadra Panigrahi also extended support to the protesters joining in the protest dharana. Among others, Ramesh Kissan, Navin Kumra, Gopana Oram and Dillip Majhi were present in the protest daharana.
They submitted a memorandum in the name of Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha through the BDO, Riamal. In the absence of BOD, GPEO, Birendranath Dibedi received the memorandum on behalf of the BDO. In the memorandum submitted, they have also threatened the district administration to gherao district office if their genuine demands do not fulfilled within 2 months.