Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Khaprakhol ( Bolangir), June 22:
Zindabad Sangathan, the rights based local Loksangathan of Khaprakhol Block of Bolangir district affiliated to Campaign and Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha gheraoed block office on June 17, demanding implementation of various pro-people developmental programmes and constitutional provisions in the Bolangir District.
Around 1500 people from Khaprakhol block took part in the protest rally with placards in their hands. Besides, members of the Zindabad Sangathan from Turekela block also participated. A long procession of tribals and forest dwellers stated from the Panchayat office which marched and gheraoed the block office followed by a public meeting.
Jayanta Bag, member of the organization welcomed all the participants in the protest Rally. Trilochan Punji, the president of the Zindabad Sanagathan shared the objective of the protest rally and meeting. Emphasizing on the migration problems of the area he said “every year thousands of people have to migrate from the area in search of work. They mostly work in Brick kilns in other states and are physically, memtally harassed and tortured. The apathetic attitude of the local administration is solely responsible for this”.
Late payment has been the major cause for the failure of the MGNREGA scheme in the area”, he said. Even the government of Odisha has totally failed to rehabilitate the bonded labour being rescued by civil society organizations. In his keynote speech, he called upon the people of the organization to get united to fight against the injustice done to them.
Supporting the protest rally, the local Zilla Parishad member, Susil Guru raised the fundamental issues of the areas. Focusing on the plights of the local farmers, he said that “the local small and marginal farmers are deprived from getting benefits from government schemes meant for them.
He raised serious concern over the land alienation by adopting fraudulent means by the companies hand in glove with the Govt. official. He also demanded State Bank of Inida(SBI) branch in the Khaprakhol block for the development of farmers. He also shared on various plights of the local people which compel them to migrate outside the State.
Raghunath Singh Bariha, the local Panchayat Samiti Member also joined the protest rally. In his keynote address, he said, “the local innocent tribals people are being harassed by the police, the local tribals are being framed in false cases.” He further said that “Govt. of Odisha cannot suppress the democratic movements in the name of naxal.” He also called upon the local people to fight against the conspiracy of the local police.”
Bipra Bishi, the local tribal leader addressed the august gathering and raised various concerns over the health and education problem in the block. He demanded to declare Gandhamardhan Hill as national Heritage.
Dr. Manohar Chauhan, State Member, Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha joining the protest rally said, “Bolangir district is lagging far behind in the implementation of the historic Forest Rights Act and from last 2012, there has been no progress in IFR settlement in the district”.
Recognising the efforts of the Zindabad Sangathan in mobilizing the community people of the area in the struggle for the enactment of historic Forest Rights Act, 2006, he called upon the people to strengthen Gram Sabha and to demand for changes in the Panchayatiraj Acts and Rules in accordance with the provisions of FRA.
He also recognized the efforts of the facilitating local civil society organizations in Deogaon block where 5 community forest rights titles have been distributed in the whole district. Giving critical observation over these 5 CFR titles issued, he said, “firstly, these titles have been issued in the name of FRC members which should have been issued in the name of the village/Gram Sabha itself.
Secondly, these titles have been limited to MFP collection and forest protection only while all other uses/natures of rights recognized under FRA should have been mentioned.
Thirdly, only some of the revenue forest land/area/plots within the revenue villages have been haphazardly recognized while the community people have forest rights over the reserve forest area(beyond revenue boundary) adjacent to these revenue villages.
Fourthly, the mention of High Court case (WP© No.4933/2008) in the titles was contradictory to the Section 4(7) of the FRA, 2006 which says “The forest rights shall be conferred free of all encumbrances and procedural requirements, including clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
He further said, since these 5 CFR titles issued are based on the claim filed in the “B” form and are in the Annexure III of the Forest Rights Rules, 2008, the Gram Sabha of these villages should once again file fresh claims in the “C” forms prescribed under FR(Amendment ) Rules, 2012.
The other leaders of the Zindabad Sangathan, i.e. Gopal Niyal and Raghunath Rana also spoke on the occasion.
At the end of the public meeting, a 14-point memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minster, Govt. of Odisha through the BDO, Khaprakhol.
FRA Implementation in Bolangir District: An Overview
Bolangir district is one of the backward districts of Western Odisha and is quite known for massive labour migration.
As per the latest 2011 census, scheduled caste constitutes 17.87% and scheduled tribe constitutes 21.05 % to its total population. Most of the population- constituting 88% – live in the rural areas while only 12% live in the urban areas of the district.
As per the government data, forest land constitutes about 27.57% of the total geographical area of the district. Out of the total forest land available in the district, reserved forest constitutes 68% while revenue forest land constitutes 32% (including 4% of the DLC) forest land.
For the administrative purposes, the whole district has been dived into three Sub-Divisions and 14 Blocks/Tahasils and 285 G.Ps. As per the district website, there are 1764 inhabited villages in the district.
However as per the FRA State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC), there are 1753 villages. Besides, there are hundreds of forest and un-surveyed villages located in the reserved forest areas of the district which need to be identified and converted into revenue villages.
As per the Report FRA SLMC, by the end of the April , 2014, around 4796 individual forest rights (IFR)claims have been filed at the Forest Rights committee level out of which only 1190 IFR titles have been distributed over 2828.78 acres of forest land.
It is also reported that while 1636 IFR claims have been rejected by the SDLC, 1970 IFR claims have been shown pending at the Gram Sabha level. Besides, 251 community forest rights (138 in B form and 113 in C forms) have been filed in the district out of which only 5 CFR titles have been issued to 5 villages (Antala, Dumerjore, Rugudipali, Talpali and Jhinkirimal) in the Deogaon block over 2561.13 acres of forest land. 55 CFR claims (42 in claim form b and 13 in claims form C) have been shown as rejected by SDLCs, 191 CFR claims (91 in claim form b and 100 in claims form C) have been shown as pending at different levels.
The district has also shown poor performance in case of convergence of developmental programmes over the forest land issued under IFR. As per the SLMC Report, by the end of 31st March, 2014, only 755 (362-IAY, 6-Mo Kudia, 47-Mo Pokhari and 317-Land Devlopment under MGNREGS and 23- others) case of convergence have been reported out of the 1190 IFR distributed.