Bhubaneswar, Dec 7:
A ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator has urged the Odisha government to recognise the forest rights of Pauri Bhuyan tribals, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), residing on the hills in Sundargarh district.
The Odisha government has recommended prospecting license (PL) over Khandadhar iron ore deposits in favour of Posco India.
Dambaru Sisa, the first legislator from the Bondas, one of India’s most primitive tribes living in the remote hills of the Malkangiri district, has urged the government for effective implementation of forest rights in Khandadhar areas for tribals’ betterment.
“Sundargarh is enriched with the presence of Pauri Bhuyan, a PVTG, having their habitat in Khandadhar. Forest Rights Act has the scope to recognise their rights over their habitat and the process has not started yet,” the legislator said in a letter to the Sundargarh district collector.
Sisa has been elected legislator from Chitrakonda assembly constituency in Malkangiri district.
In his letter, Sisa said the process to convert forest habitations into revenue villages is yet to start in the district even though the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, clearly spells out that the tribals’ habitation be recognised.
The Pauri Bhuyan tribals are protesting the state government decision to allow Posco India to mine in Khandadhar hills for the company’s proposed $12 billion steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district.
They demand that since Khandadhar is the habitat of the PVTG, both the central and state governments should follow the provisions of FRA and go by the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Niyamgiri case.
Following the apex court order, the state government had held village meetings and the Dongaria Kondhs dependent on the Niyamgiri hills had unanimously trumped the bauxite mining plan of Vedanta in a referendum last year.