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Tribals to get land rights by March 2019 in Odisha

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Bhubaneswar: In another initiative ahead of general elections, Odisha government decided to provide land rights to tribals across the state by March 2019.

The move came at Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held after three years here on Thursday.

As per the decision, the district collectors were asked to identify the forest land and hand over the patta to the tribals under Forest Rights Act.

Worth mentioning, Odisha continues to be placed in top rank for successful implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the country. Under the law, around 4.15 lakh tribals have been distributed the individual rights covering an area of 6.14 lakh acre and 6,336 community rights over an area of 3.28 lakh acre so far.

The government has launched Odisha Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme (OTELP) for improvement of economic condition and livelihoods of the tribals.

A special programme Odisha Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) Empowerment and Livelihood Improvement Programme (OPELIP) was also launched in 2016-17 with an objective to provide opportunities to the tribals under poverty line with allocation of Rs 795 crore in the budget targeting to benefit around 62,000 households, said CM Patnaik while addressing the TAC meeting.

The government is committed towards providing economic empowerment, enhanced livelihood opportunities, education and skill development for the tribals in the state. The state will continue to ensure the tribal student to get quality education, he said adding that the tribals students studying at national level institutions are also provided complete financial assistance for their education. A special development council has also been constituted in nine tribal-dominated districts for development of tribals and welfare of tribal people, preservation and promotion of their cultural heritage, he said.

All the initiatives launched by the government have been lauded at the meeting, ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi told the reporters after meeting.

However, Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi alleged that the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act or PESA and Forest Rights Act are not being executed in the state.

He said that the opposition members did not get opportunity for more discussion in the matter.

Notably, the TAC meeting was held last time in March 2015. As the meeting is not held regularly, the opposition members had stalled the House during Assembly sessions.