Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Baripada, Feb 22
The community leaders in Odisha have decided to stage a united fight to get rights over the land.
“We have named mountains. We have also named rivers and streams. Our ancestors had fought for the water, land and forest from the time immemorial. But, now, we are struggling for essentials of life. So it is high time for united fight to get rights over the land,” the said at the concluding day of the Loka Sanghathan Utsav at Baripada on Friday.
More than 700 community leaders of 130 Gram Panchayats of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar, on a mass ceremony, had taken oath to protect land, water, forest and ecology for the posterity.
Laxmidhar Munda, president of the Village Forest Rights Committee of Umadeipur Gram Panchayat under Sarasakana block said that they had formed the committee after the THREAD organization convinced them about their rights over the land. With the efforts of the committee, as many as 14 individuals have already got the Individual Land Titles.
Unlike Laxmidhar, other community leaders like Sudam Murmu, Shanti Nayak, Laxmi Munda, Ramesh Marandi and Bhaskar Nayak stated that though individuals’ forest rights claims were being settled, the community claims were still being kept awaited because the District Level Coordination Committee was yet to clear the claims.
Community leaders, prior to the concluding ceremony, took out a public rally demanding the rights for the Gram Sabha to decide. Sashikanta Malik of Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS), Y Giir Rao of Vasundhara, Santosh Rao Dora and Forest Rights activist Pradeep Sahu discussed on the different aspects of the Forest Rights Act and the role community leaders.
Loka Sanghathan Utsav concluded on a high note with community leaders and activists vowing to ensure the rights for the socially excluded groups.
Apart from PACS, other leading organizations like THREAD (Team for Human Resource Education and Action for Development), ISS, Sankalpa, Grama Swaraj and Dulal had participated and contributed for the success of the Loka Sanghthan Utsav.
As informed by Sashikanta Malik of PACS, the next four regional Loka Sanghathan Utsav will be held at Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Koraput and Kandhamal districts.