India – Single Women’s Association- A force not be forgotten #womenrights


Fellow members of the Jharol Block group of the Single Women’s Association in Udaipur, Rajasthan are an important source of strength and solidarity for one another.

Single, divorced or widowed women in India are customarily excluded from many areas of life, are often subject to significant discrimination and abuse, and can feel extremely ostracised and alone. www.flickr.com/photos/christianaidimages/sets/72157629130..

By Swapna Majumdar

Delhi (Women’s Feature Service) – ‘Namaste, main Radha hoon, ek paritakta. (Greetings, I am Radha, a deserted woman)’. When Radha Devi, 32, introduces herself her eyes brim with confidence, her voice is loud and clear. For a rural woman from Himachal Pradesh who five years ago did nothing even as her alcoholic husband thrashed her, this was a huge change.

 

But achieving this transformation was not easy. Radha had accepted that violence at her husband’s hands was her fate and was ashamed to tell anyone about the beatings. She was also afraid that she would be separated from her son if she complained. She would have probably continued this way had not she met members of the Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (Association of Single Women).

 

 

 

Says Nirmal Chandel, state coordinator of the Himachal Pradesh unit of ENSS, “Even after we met her, Radha was unwilling to leave her husband. It took us several meetings to convince her that unless she took some action, she would lose her son anyway because she would be dead.” 

Finally, Radha gathered the courage to leave her husband, along with her son. Since 2007, she hasn’t looked back and today heads ENSS’s state unit in Rakkar in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

 

Radha is not the only woman whose life has changed. Several ENSS members shared their stories of change at a recent meeting held in the Capital. Organised by the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights, the meeting brought single women comprising widows, abandoned, deserted, unmarried and divorced women from seven states together to discuss how their issues could be mainstreamed in the national discourse.

 

According to the 2001 census, more than 39.8 million women are single. This figure is expected to be much higher in the 2011 census, the results of which are presently awaited. The issues of single women were first raised in 2000 after the ENSS was set up in Rajasthan. Started by Astha Sansthan, an Udaipur-based non-government organisation, ENSS began with a handful of members. Over the last 12 years, the movement has gathered steam, with 80,000 members across eight states. Single women have formed state units in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Other states expected to join the ENSS family soon are Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

 

As the movement grew, the single women’s collective broke several barriers, especially of silence. In Bihar and Jharkhand, support by the collective has helped to save many widows targeted as ‘daians’, or witches, from being lynched by violent mobs. In Rajasthan, the Sangathan has given single women the confidence and legal knowledge to claim their rights to land, while their counterparts in Gujarat have been helped to speak out against violence, discrimination and assisted in resuming their education. ENSS members in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have helped each other break cruel traditional customs, stand up to sexual harassment and seek police and legal assistance. As single women came together, shared their experiences, grief and pain, they were inspired by the courage displayed by many of the other members of their group who had stood up for their rights and successfully accessed their entitlements, ranging from pensions to birth certificates.

 

Even while state units continued to reach out to single women, it was found to be necessary to bring their issues to the national fora in order to achieve policy level changes, according to Ginny Srivastava, founder of ENSS and co-founder, Astha Sansthan. To make that happen, in 2009, different state units of ENSS got together to form the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights (NFSWR) that lobbies for their rights at the national level. The NFSWR advisory committee is now focusing on strategies that could be translated, especially keeping in mind the upcoming general elections. “Getting politicians to include the issues of single women in their election manifesto is very difficult. We held several meetings with them to make them aware of the importance of single women’s rights. We also managed to get a few political parties to include some of our issues in their manifestoes during assembly elections, after convincing them that single women now form an important vote bank,” revealed Chandel, who was herself widowed at the young age of 23.

 

The Himachal ENSS unit, working through SUTRA, a NGO engaged with gender empowerment, has become a force to contend with. It is the recipient of the Ashoka’s Changemakers Award in 2010 for its success in enabling all 35 single women in Tikri village of Baijanth block to access government schemes.

 

Single women, as an entity, have also made it into the Twelfth Five Year Plan for the first time, which means that government programmes and policies can focus on their specific needs.

 

But the forum is not stopping with these achievements. One of the issues it is pushing is the allotment of land for collective farming to enable single women to access sustainable livelihoods. This demand has been supported by the National Commission for Women and the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, both of which have agreed that the government should help women claim community lands and form farming cooperatives.

Findings of a 2011 study conducted by representatives of the single women’s group have validated this demand. Entitled ‘Are We Forgotten Women? A study of the status of low-income single women in India’, the study found that in the absence of marketable skills, education, and ownership of resources, single women rely heavily on daily wage labour for survival. This makes them easy prey for exploitation and abuse. Conducted in six states, the survey covered 386 single women and noted that 75 per cent of single women survived on less than the minimum wage with as many as 90 per cent dependent on borrowings to make ends meet. Ironically, only 21 per cent managed to get recognised as living below the poverty line (BPL) by the government.

For single women, it is a long, hard road ahead. But they are determined to prove that while they may be single, they are not alone and will certainly not allow themselves to be forgotten.

Women’s Feature Service

 

#India-Woman jumps from speeding train to escape molesters #Vaw


By PTI – PATNA

03rd January 2013 09:36 PM

A woman jumped from a speeding express train suffering injuries on her head and legs to escape from molesters who were identified as army jawans near Ara junction in Bihar’s Bhojpur district today, officials said.

Bhojpur District Magistrate Pratima S Verma told PTI that the woman from Darjeeling in West Bengal jumped out of the 14055 UP Dibrugarh-Delhi Brahmaputra Express at Jagjivan Halt to escape from the clutches of the molesters.

The woman in her thirties suffered injuries on the head and legs and was admitted to the Sadar Hospital at Ara, the district headquarters of Bhojpur, around 50 km from Patna.

One of the molesters, identified as army jawan Ramesh Kumar hailing from Himachal Pradesh, was caught by an Assam Rifles man A D Upadhyay from the toilet where he was hiding, police sources said.

He was handed over to the Railway Protection Force at Buxar, the sources said.

Inspector General of Police, Rail, Vinay Kumar said in Patna that another army jawan was involved in molesting the woman on the train. The second jawan escaped to another bogey of the train taking advantage of chaos, he said.

The victim travelling in the B-1 coach did not have a confirmed ticket and was sitting on the TT’s berth, the IG said.

When the train reached Mirzapur station in Uttar Pradesh, the TT and other passengers were questioned about the incident, the IG added. In the preliminary inquiry it was established that the victim’s husband was a tailor at Darjeeling, Kumar said.

He said Patna Rail Superintendent of Police Suresh Chaudhary was seeking more information from the victim at the hospital.

Two FIRs have been lodged, one each at Ara and Buxar, at the GRP police station, police sources said. The DM said the injured girl was carried to Ara junction on a maintenance trolley by rail employees. The DM and Superintendent of Police of Bhojpur M R Naik visited the girl at the hospital.

 

‘Substantially’ funded NGOs to make info public under RTI Act


Ashwani Sharma : Shimla, IE, Sat Dec 08 2012,
In a landmark judgement having wider implications on government-funded NGOs and organisations run on public contributions, the State Information Commission (SIC) on Friday ruled that all “substantially” financed NGOs (receiving over Rs 1 crore from state or government grants) are public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and must make their annual ‘income and expenditures’ public.
In the Commission’s order, passed by a two-member bench of Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner K D Batish, Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA) was declared a public authority under RTI and directed to appoint its public information officer (PIO) within 10 days.
“As per the provisions of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Act 1971, HPVHA is a public authority under the RTI Act as it is being substantially financed by the government and is eligible for audit by the CAG. The association is directed to designate an official as the PIO within 10 days from the receipt of the order”, said the order.
The order was passed in a complaint by one Deepak Sharma, who was denied information by HPVHA as it asserted it was not covered under the RTI Act. The Commission analysed the funding details of the the organization, which was over Rs 1.22 crore during 2008-2009. It claimed that the organisation had been getting substantial aid from the state government and thus cannot be granted exemptions from RTI.
In its order, the commission also stated that in cases where the state gives not so substantial grants (Rs 25 lakh or less) to NGOs, the state or a government agency will be appointed as public authority, which will be required to provide information.
It also added that NGOs that have been raising funds from public contributions should voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on the web, which should include its Constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations, its annual income and expenditure and nature of works undertaken or completed.
“If an NGO is not substantially financed by the government and also raises funds by collections from public contribution and it performs functions of a public nature that are ordinarily performed by the government or its agency, it is desirable that the NGO voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on its website,” the order said.
The HPHVA has to provide the details within a month.

 

Government to implement Aadhaar in 43 districts from January 1, 2013 #UID


By PTI – NEW DELHI

06th December 2012 04:07 PM

  • Home Minister P Chidambaram said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes. (PTI photo/File)
    Home Minister P Chidambaram said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes. (PTI photo/File)

Within days of Election Commission issuing direction in the direct cash transfer scheme, the government today said it will be implemented in 43 districts, as against 51 announced earlier.

“As Aadhaar numbers are in the process of being issued, Aadhar enabled direct cash transfer is being implemented in a phase wise manner beginning with 43 districts from January 1, 2013,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

The government’s earlier announcement of implementing cash transfer in 29 welfare schemes in 51 districts from January 1 was objected to by BJP, in view of the state- elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Following a complaint by the BJP, the Election Commission has asked the government to postpone implementation of the scheme in these two states.

Chidambaram, in his reply, said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes.

The electronic cash transfers will be based on Aadhar (Unique Identification Number) platform. The entire country is targeted to be covered by the end of next year.

“Since Aadhaar is based on unique identity of a person that includes finger print…, the proposed transfer will help in de-duplication and accurate targeting of the beneficiary,” Chidambaram said.

The schemes which would come under the purview of the cash transfer scheme from January 1 would include those of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Human Resources Development (HRD), Minority, Welfare, Women and Child Development, Health and Family and Labour and Employment.

Aadhaar, a 12-digit number, serves as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country. The UIDAI has already issued 21 crore Aadhaar cards.

 

EC directs government to defer implementation of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme in Gujarat & HP


Dec4. 2012, ET

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the government on the announcement timing of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme (DCT). EC directed the government to defer the implementation of the scheme in four districts of Gujarat and two of Himachal Pradesh till the state assembly elections are over.

In a stern message to the government, EC said that the timing of government’s DCT scheme was ‘avoidable’. “The government should have maintained letter and spirit of model code of conduct,” it said.

On its part, the government on Monday had told the EC that it did not violate the model code of conduct by announcing the direct cash transfer scheme. In its reply to a notice from the poll panel, the government had stressed that the scheme was among the proposals announced by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget speech in March. Also, the Prime Minister’s Office had issued a statement on September 28, in which it was said that the prime minister has set up the architecture for moving to electronic cash transfers leveraging Aadhaar.

The government, in its reply, said that both these announcements were made well before the model code of conduct came into force on October 3 for the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

BJP has been objecting over the announcement made last week at Congress headquarters by finance minister P Chidambaram and the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. The ministers termed the scheme as a game-changer. BJP complained to the poll panel that the scheme was announced ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls, scheduled on December 13 and 17, and hence there was violation of the model code of conduct. BJP also added that four of the 51 districts selected to benefit initially from the scheme were in poll-bound Gujarat.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said that his party was against abolition of the public distribution system, which he claimed had done well in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. “Is Congress serious about it (direct cash transfer scheme)? Have they done their homework well? Let Manish Tewari say why it has come a cropper after it was introduced with fanfare in Rajasthan,” Prasad asked.

 

NDTV employee missing, please help with information #mustshare


NDTV.com | Updated: November 30, 2012 14:28 IST

NDTV employee missing, please help with information

New DelhiRavi Nibhanapudi, 26, who works with NDTV has been missing since Saturday. His family says he left Delhi on Friday, November 24, 2012 , for a trip to Dharamsala and McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh.He was reportedly traveling alone.

His phone is switched off. Local officials have organised a search for him with assistance from the army and trekkers’ associations.

  • Please contact 9811158193, 9711939664 with any relevant information.

If you have any information about him, please contact Anasuya Mathur at 011-26446666.

Surviving in a world of men- #Gender #Discrimination


BY KALPANA SHARMA, The Hindu

Women have to develop a thick skin and hit back if they are to play an effective role in Indian politics.

Winter is in the air, and so are elections. And with them, the season of loose talk and personal attacks. Narendra Modi leads the brigade with his one-liners; his verbal arrows become particularly sharp when aimed at women. His constant attacks on Sonia Gandhi are now so old hat that one can ignore them. But what of his sudden lashing out at Sunanda Tharoor, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor? Some other men from his party have joined in. Does this mean this is open season to attack women, even if they are associated with male politicians?

Modi’s jibes at Sunanda Tharoor were in such poor taste that they do not even merit a discussion. But what is worth discussing today, in the light of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and a general election in the not-too-distant future, is the status of women in Indian politics.

Again, much has already been discussed about the powerful and visible women in Indian politics. Each has had a different, and specific, trajectory to the top. The factors that got her there cannot be replicated. But apart from this handful, what is happening to millions of other women who are in politics at various levels?

Ever since the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution were passed, guaranteeing one-third reservation (now 50 per cent) to women in panchayats and nagarpalikas, millions of women have been exposed to politics. Not all of them have flourished. Many remain mere tokens of their husbands. Despite their numbers, many do not attend meetings, do not have the courage to speak at meetings, and even if they do, what they say is not heeded.

But for every one woman who is a front for a man, there is at least another who has begun to understand what governance is all about. And at least half of these women should have been able to influence the process of governance at this lowest tier. That alone would add up to thousands of women spread across this country.

What happens to these women after they have had a taste of power, realising that they can be heard, that they can make a difference in their villages or towns? Do they subside once their terms are over and go back to the traditional roles ascribed to them, of being daughter, wife or mother? Or do they dream of moving up to a higher tier, perhaps to the State Assembly?

Stuck in a limbo

There is little data to establish whether women who have served several terms in panchayats, and who have been active participants, get picked up by local political parties to contest elections for the State Assemblies. If such a natural trickle-up process had begun to take place, we would have seen an increase in the representation of women in State Assemblies. Nothing of the kind has happened.

Meantime, as we know, the Women’s Reservation Bill remains stuck, having passed the Rajya Sabha last year, but moving nowhere since then. And with all the rhetoric about giving women a place in politics, there is little to show that major political parties are making any effort to recruit more women to their party ranks.

One could also ask whether the women who are in the political parties – and many of them have become visible faces on television talk shows – have any say in crucial matters in the party. Are they in the working committees, executive committees, election committees or politburos? Are their voices heard where it could actually affect the direction of the political party? If not, they remain mere telegenic faces for their parties at a time when the media has become such an important player.

So if the reality is that, barring a few exceptional women, an effective role for women in Indian politics still remains restricted, why are some men so worried that they would launch personal attacks against women who are not even in politics?

Modi’s misogyny is well known. But one has to ask whether his latest diatribe is a precursor to more such personalised attacks on women in public life. You might say that just as men have to learn to withstand such attacks, women must too. They too have to develop a thick skin. They too have to learn when to hit back and when to hold back. They have to reckon that politics is not just a full-time job – one that allows for no concessions to other commitments – but that it is a dirty game.

This is the reality that probably makes many women hesitate about taking the first step into State level or national politics. It is not as if politics at the panchayat or nagarpalika level is bereft of sexism. In fact, women mukhiyas and sarpanches have also had to face considerable violence in many States. It is possible that they realise that moving up the political ladder brings with it more of this. Yet these women are a valuable resource with their experience in grassroots politics. What a pity that entrenched misogyny and indifference to giving women a fair chance has resulted in us wasting this resource.

sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

Naxalism a result of an oversight of statutes, says SC


 

  
Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Wed Oct 03 2012,  Indian Express

Emphasising on validation of rights of tribals and forest-dwellers over the forest lands, the Supreme Court has said that Naxalism was a result of an oversight of constitutional provisions relating to administration of schedule areas and tribes of the country.

“Nobody looks at Schedules V and VI of the Constitution and the result is Naxalism. Urbanites are ruling the nation. Even several union of India counsel are oblivious of these provisions under the Constitution,” said a Bench led by Justice A K Patnaik.

The Bench made a reference to Schedules V and VI as they contain various provisions relating to administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in several parts of the country. These provisions apply to states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan and Northeastern states such as Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Essentially these Constitutional provisions, with the help of plethora of judgments by the apex court, act as a guarantee to indigenous people on the right over the land they live in and its produce.

During a recent hearing on fresh guidelines over tiger reserves, the Bench made certain queries from Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising over the Centre’s proposal to relocate indigenous people who were still living in the core areas of tiger reserves.

The ASG had informed the Bench there were around 43,000 families still residing in core areas of tiger reserves and that the plan was to gradually move them out after proper consultation with Gram Sabhas. On being asked about the legal provisions to support the argument, she also read out from the 2006 Forest Rights Act and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.

Asserting that all stakeholders should first ensure the legal rights of the tribals are not violated, Justice Patnaik said their rights must be settled in accordance with the provisions of the law.

“There is apparently no human-tiger conflict at least as far as these tribals are concerned. Everyone must remember that forests belong to forest-dwellers. British government considered forests of immense value and said through laws that all forests belonged to government. These people were brought down to poverty and they couldn’t earn their living. They will be arrested for consuming the forest produce; such was their law,” said Justice Patnaik.

His concerns were echoed by senior advocate Dushyanat Dave, who said forest-dwellers used to get arrested trying and collect wood or pick fruits from the forests.

The Bench, however, seemed satisfied with the promulgation of the 2006 Forest Rights Act and said this situation was sought to be reversed by the new legislation as it sought to identify their rights.

“One law can make a big difference. Zamindari abolition law is a good example how a law can reverse the situation,” said Justice Patnaik, adding it was not the state but its forest departments’ officers who did not want to give up their control over the forests.

At this, the ASG said the Centre was conscious of its duty towards protecting the rights of forest-dwellers and would relocate them after following the legal process.

 

Haryana 12-week pregnant women cannot teach #WTFnews


Sukhbir Siwach, TNN Apr 28, 2012,
  • CHANDIGARH: New rules notified recently in Haryana bar more than 12-week pregnant teachers recruited in Haryana from joining work till they deliver and produce fitness certificates. They would not be entitled to get their salaries and other perks during that period.

“Those who are over 12-week pregnant will stand temporally unfit till the confinement (delivery) is over. (Before joining work) senior medical officers or civil surgeons will re-examine them to check their fitness,” said an official.

State school education department director Sameer Pal Srow justified the move. “It is not discrimination. We are just trying to avoid the loss of studies to students as pregnant women go on vacation shortly after joining duty,” he said. “Not only Haryana, even Himachal Pradeshis also following the similar practice.”

Haryana School Teachers Association (HSTA) protested the move and sent memorandums to the chief minister. “It is discrimination against women. Pregnancy is not their fault or weakness but it is the right of a woman to be a mother. A woman conceives the baby not only for herself but for the entire family,” said HSTA president Vazir Singh. “Women employees get maternity leave for 180 days. It seems that the government is trying to save salaries during this period. We will continue our protest against the decision.”

Lawyer Rajiv Godara said maternity leave is the right of women. “If the government is really serious about the studies of students, it should find out an alternative mechanism but not at the cost of women’s rights.”

 

FINALLY GOVT WITHDRAWS THE ORDER AND EDUCTAION MINISTER TAKES A U TURN AFTER HUE AND CRY BY WOMEN ACTIVIST SEE THE VIDEO BELOW

 

Watch headlines today video here

Land and the people: ‘Injustice still being perpetuated by govts’


Picea smithiana forest. Around Vashist, Himach...

Picea smithiana forest. Around Vashist, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 11:03 IST
By Subir Ghosh & Maitreyi Joshi | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

State governments across the country have been both callous and tardy in implementing the Forest Rights Act. Claims are being rejected on flimsy grounds, with the rejection rate in as many as 11 states being over 50%. Karnataka stands fourth in the rejection rate with 95.66%, according to a compilation released on Monday by the Delhi-based Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN).

As of January 31 this year, 31,68,478 claims have been received and 27,24,162 (85.98%) disposed of. In terms of rejection, Uttarakhand is on the top with 100% followed by Himachal Pradesh (99.62%), Bihar (98.12%), Karnataka (95.66%) and Uttar Pradesh (80.48%), The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 is popularly referred to as the Forest Rights Act.

There are numerous reasons for this.
Paritosh Chakma, director of AITPN, explained, “Forest Rights Committees have not been constituted at the gram sabha level in several states while the forest officials have been obstructing the process of verification and decision making at various levels. The claimants are denied proper hearing of their cases and opportunity to file appeal against the rejections.”

The nodal ministry i.e. Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA)has washed its hands off by maintaining that its role is limited to “facilitating and monitoring the implementation”. On the other hand, the nodal departments at the state level do not understand the provisions of the FRA and have been reduced to performing a ‘post office’ job of collecting statistical information and forwarding it to the higher levels.

The reason for Karnataka being high on the list was explained by Srikanth, the state convener of the Tribal Joint Action. He said, “Officials in the state government have not had a proper orientation about FRA. They do not even understand what the law implies and they have just been rejecting all the applications, stating reasons like ‘they do not live in forests’ and ‘they are not doing agriculture on the land’. They have missed out on the what the Act exactly means. It is because of the lethargy and negligence of all these people in power – forest and revenue officers – that several people are suffering.”

The problem has been complicated by the fact that the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 2007 (better known as the Forest Rights Rules, 2007) notified on January 1, 2008 actually overrules the Forest Rights Act to deny rights to the beneficiaries.

VS Roy David, national convenor of the National Adivasi Alliance, said “The central government had allotted lots of funds to organise training programmes to create awareness about the Act among forest and district officials, but very few training programmes have been held (which were poorly attended). Most higher officials who are supposed to implement the law are not even clear about what the law means.”

The AITPN report ‘The State of the Forest Rights Act: Undoing of historical injustice withered’ categorically says that there has been little willingness to implement the FRA in letter and spirit. The MoTA especially had been shirking its responsibilities. In 2010, the MoTA had claimed that “Though the Act was passed by the central government, the primary responsibility of implementing this Act lies with the state governments” and that its role is limited to only “facilitating and monitoring the implementation” of the Forest Rights Act.

Roy David said, “There is no political will to implement the law. Forest officials look at forests as commercial sites from which they extract resources. If the law is implemented, the people in power worry that they will not be able to enjoy the same powers anymore. Moreover, there is a lot of political interference; many areas are being declared as ‘tiger sensitive’, ‘heritage sites’ and ‘elephant corridors’ even before the Forest Rights Act is implemented. This clearly is the violation of law.”

There are other issues too. Contended Chakma, “The community forest rights (CFRs) are not being recognised and in many states even the forms are not supplied. The claims under the FRA are not being recognised in the protected areas such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The ‘Other Traditional Forest Dwellers’ are being denied rights under the FRA.”

The president of the Karnataka Adivasi Forum, JP Raju, said, “The forest and district officials are supposed to conduct community surveys to understand the status of the forest dwellers, but they are not doing that. Most applications are being rejected stating that there are not enough evidence(s) and documents supporting the application.”

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