Rallying cry: Dongria stand firm against Vedanta mine


13 June 2013, http://www.survivalinternational.org/

Dongria leader Lodu Sikaka has called for an end to the harassment of village leaders and vowed to defend Niyamgiri.

Dongria leader Lodu Sikaka has called for an end to the harassment of village leaders and vowed to defend Niyamgiri.
© Survival

During a rally of defiance, India’s Dongria Kondh have vowed to defend their Niyamgiri Hills against an open pit mine by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, and demanded the release of village leaders ahead of consultations about the mine.

Dongria leader Lodu Sikaka addressed a crowd of thousands determined to save their hills and said, ‘We are not going to let go of Niyamgiri … Let the government and the company repress us as much as they can. We are not going to leave Niyamgiri, our Mother Earth.’

In a landmark ruling in April 2013, India’s Supreme Court rejected Vedanta’s appeal to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, and decreed that those affected by the mine must be consulted.

But while over a hundred villages will be affected by the mine, only twelve village councils (gram sabhas) around the hills have been invited for consultations, a move condemned by the Dongria and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and the final decision about the mine will lie with the central government.

Survival has received worrying reports that police and paramilitaries are exerting pressure on the Dongria by intimidating the residents of the twelve villages. A delegation of Dongria has traveled to the state capital to complain about the harassment and to demand that 150 villages are included in the consultations.

The Niyamgiri Hills are central to the livelihood and identity of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh, which could be destroyed by the mine. Recently, their leaders have faced increasing harassment and several have been arrested.

Addressing the rally, Lodu added, ‘We believe in the state, in democracy. Let them release all our people who are jailed and then we go for the gram sabha. Otherwise we will not!’

The Dongria have rallied together in opposition to an open pit mine in their Niyamgiri Hills.

The Dongria have rallied together in opposition to an open pit mine in their Niyamgiri Hills.
© Bikash Khemka/Survival

The Dongria’s struggle has been likened to the Hollywood story of ‘Avatar’ and won them the support of many celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Michael Palin. It resulted in shareholders such as the Church of England and the Norwegian government pension fund pulling out of Vedanta.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘Harassing people’s leaders prior to ‘consultations’ about an invasive mine, which the same people have rejected for years, is neither fair nor democratic. It’s another example of how the language of ‘rights’ and ‘consent’ is now being manipulated by governments and companies bent on stealing tribal lands, at any human cost.’

Note to editors:
– Read the letter by India’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs condemning the lack of villages involved in the consultations(pdf, 492kb)

 

Vedanta mining: Government seeks Judicial Officer from HC


By Express News Service – BHUBANESWAR

27th May 2013 12:28 PM

The State Government has requested Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court to nominate a judicial officer of the rank of district judge as observer for the proposed gram sabhas to be conducted for deciding grant of mining lease to Vedanta Group for bauxite mining.

In an official communique to the Registrar General of the High Court, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Secretary Santosh Sarangi said the Supreme Court has directed that the proceedings of the grama sabha should be attended by a judicial officer of the rank of district judge who will sign the minutes of the proceedings.

In its April 18 judgment, the Supreme Court said grant of mining lease to Vedanta Group for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills will be subjected to clearance by gram sabhas on the cultural and religious claims of the tribes and forest-dwellers of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts.

The apex court has directed the State Government to place issues concerning individual, community, cultural and religious claims of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Traditional Forest Dwellers (TFDs) before the gram sabha which would decide the same in three months.

The court also directed that the proceedings of the gram sabha shall be attended as an observer by a judicial officer of the rank of the District Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Orissa.

“The judicial officer shall have to sign the minutes of the proceedings, certifying that the proceedings of the gram sabha took place independently and completely uninfluenced either by the project proponents or the Central Government or the State Government,” a three-member bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam, KS Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi said.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) had recently asked the State Government to ensure that the entire proceedings are held in an independent manner, uninfluenced by any vested interests and without coercion.

Governor SC Jamir recently summoned three senior officers of the State Government to apprise him of the steps taken on the directive of the Supreme Court.

Principal Secretary, Steel and Mines Rajesh Verma, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes Development Secretary Santosh Sarangi and Chairman and Managing Director of Odisha Mining Corporation Saswata Mishra reportedly told the Governor that instructions have been issued to district collectors of Kalahandi and Rayagada for conducting gram sabhas in 12 villages as per the apex court guidelines.

 

Download Report- Critical Observations on the Implementation FRA #Mustshare


The very enactment of the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 by the Indian Parliament in the country
after the 60 years of India’s independence is a landmark constitutional reform. Campaign for
Survival and Dignity (CSD) played a vital role in mobilizing the tribals, forest dwellers and people’s
representatives at different levels in whole country and successfully got this Act passed by the Indian
Parliament which admitted for the first time in the history of India to have done historical injustice to
the tribals and forest dwellers before and after India’s independence. We believe that FRA aims at
reddressal of a numbers of problems arose due to the draconian Acts like Indian Forest Act, 1927 and
Land Acquisition Land, 1894 which were used to evict the tribals and the forest dwellers from their
homes and shelters like goats and cattle. The Forest Rights Act, 2006 not only revived the tribal self
governance regime in scheduled 5th area enforced by the Central PESA Act, 1996 but also it extended
the provisions of the PESA even to the non scheduled area(whole State) empowering the Village
Council, the Gram Sabha to decide over their fate and fate of their resources which has been upheld
by the Supreme Court, the highest Court of the nation in the Niyamgiri case on 18th April 2013.
All the State’s Apparatus has now to accept that “Gram Sabha” is the lowest unit or form of
“Government” having its own exclusive legislative, executive and judicial power and authority over
its stipulated areas like any other forms of Government at Block, District, State and Central level.
The FRA has also raised fundamental questions over the on-going Panchyatitaj systems;
representative system runs in different State and aims at implementation of direct democracy
sidelining the over empowered bureaucracy. Forest Rights Act, 2006 has also challenged the age-old
State hegemony over forest protection and conservation in the name of “scientific forest
management” and has strengthen the conservation regime handing it to the community people who
live and die in the forest.
As per the India State of Forest Report, 2011, the recorded forest area of the country is
769,538 km2, accounting for 23.41 % of the Country’s geographical area. The State of Odisha
constituting only 4.73 of India’s geographical area have around 7% of the total forest area of the
country. While the reserved forest is spread over 26329 km2 constituting 45.28%, Protected forest
spread over 15525 km2 constituting 26.70% and the Un-classed forest is found in 16282 km2
constituting 28% of the total forest area which is 37% of the total geographical area of the State.
However, as per the Odisha Government Report there is 15022058.35 acres constituting 39.16 % of
forest land in the State to its total geographical areas. It is reported that out of this 39.16 % of forest
land, the State Forest Department have 43.32 % of forest land including the reserved forest in the
State while around 52.26 % are Revenue forest land including the protected forest and rest 4.40 %
District Level Committee (DLC) forest land, the revenue land mentioned as DLC land in 1997 as per
the direction of the Supreme Court in connection with WP(c) No. 202/1995.
There is in total 8.21% of tribal population in India. Likewise the tribal population in Odisha
constitutes 22.13 % as per the 2001 census report mostly residing in the rural area. Also Govt. of
Odisha while targeting the implementation of the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the State
referred the State of Forest Report, 1999 which stated that out of 46,989 villages in the State, there
are 29,302 villages located in close vicinity of forest which are to be covered under FRA. The GoO
also has estimated that out of 6420514 rural households, there are 1762342 ST households
constituting 27.44 % in the State. Besides, there is large number of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
in the State depending on the forest for their subsistence needs to be covered under FRA. Besides,
Odisha has been the hub for the experiment of all the sensational issues in the country and always
been in the limelight of media may be for its ample deposit of mineral and natural resources or for
displacement, poverty, protest etc.

We believe that the effective implementation of this historic Act in its true letter and spirit would
definitely change the scenario of Odisha and resolve most of the socio-economic problems being
faced by the State including the problems of Outlawed Naxal. There has been much progress of
settlement of Individual forest rights of tribals and convergence of developmental progrmmes in the
State from last 2008 in comparison to the Other States of the country. However, still the State has
miles to go before reaching to the destination. After the enactment and implementation of the forest
rights act in the State, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha is engaged in making forest
dwellers aware on FRA and actively watching the development and progress of FRA implementation
in the state. And whenever found loopholes in FRA implementation, we have appraised the GoO
through discussion and even through Protest Rally and Dharana. Besides, in many districts, the
different community based and civil society organizations affiliated to the CSD, Odisha have played
a vital role in facilitating forest dwellers in filing forest rights claim. Whenever and wherever we
found rights violations of FRA, we have rush the place, met with our aggrieved people and have tried
to resolve them discussing with the concerned SDLCs/DLCs. We also documented the violations
stories and have shared them with the SLMC and also with the media. We have had special Interface
and discussion with the SLMC on the various FRA implementation issues on 28th Feb 2009, 9th Jan,
2010 and 13th Jan, 2011 etc.
We appreciate Government of Odisha, especially the SCST Department for sincerely
bringing monthly FRA Progress and Status Report which is again unique in comparison to other
State of the country. We also sincerely appreciate the Department for bringing a number of positive
circulars, clarification, guidelines to facilitate the FRA implementation process in the State. Thanks
are also due to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India for looking after the implementation of
the FRA in the State and guiding the State Government for its better implementation.
This “Critical Observations Report” is based on our involvement and experience in last 10
years of struggle and engagement in the grounds FRA implementation. We have been analyzing the
monthly FRA implantation Progress report, identified a number of issues and have appraised the
government of Odisha time and again to resolve them. Even the GoO has considered some of them
and have brought changes too i.e issuance of ST certificate by the Gram Sabha, segregation of CFR
titles distributed under Section 3(1) and 3(2) etc. Of course a lot more has to be done. This time, our
“Critical Observations and Comments” are made against the monthly “FRA Progress Report Table”
produced by the SLMC from last 2009. Basically the comments are based against the data shown in
different Columns of the latest “FRA Progress Report Table up to 30th April, 2013” and issues
involved therein with the information that we have from the grounds. Besides, we have requested and
sought more information and clarification on the status of other important forest rights recognized
under the forest rights act. We expect the GoO, especially the FRA Nodal SCST Department would
appreciate our efforts and act upon the issues being raised.
We are very much thankful to all of the individual members of the CSD, Odisha, and other
civil society organizations working on FRA in different districts of the State for sharing with us all
necessary information to complete this observation report. Hope, friends interested to know and
understand the various FRA implementation issues in the State of Odisha would find this “CSD,
Odisha’s Observation Report” useful one.
20th May 2013 CSD, Odisha
csdorissa@gmail.com

Download full report here

 

#India- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes puts Governors in the docks


Governors in the dock

 

Author(s): Jitendra, downtoearth

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2013

image

Tribals in Jharkhand protest for land rights. Conflicts are growing in tribal areas ( photo credit: ARVIND YADAV / CSE)

They turn a blind eye to laws overriding tribal rights, complains national commission

 

GOVERNORS of states with sizeable tribal population have come in for indictment over not performing their special administrative roles. To ensure partial autonomy in tribal areas, the Constitution entrusts governors with immense powers to supervise the administration and governance in such areas. They can allow or disallow any law or development programme in tribal areas to protect self governance and development needs. They can also make regulations for harmony and effective governance. But governors are hardly doing so, finds the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

 

In a confidential report sent to the President, the Commission has recommended that governors be made more accountable in dispensing their special duties in tribal areas notified under Schedule Five of the Constitution, which protects tribal interests. This comes at a time when the government is allocating large development funds for these areas, many of which are reeling from Maoist insurgency.

 

“There is a need to evolve a mechanism for the governor … in scheduled areas to monitor and ensure implementation (of constitutional provisions) in letter and spirit. So that governors may play an oversight role in the matter,” states the report sent in June last yearand seen by Down To Earth.

 

The Commission, a constitutional body, sends an annual report to the President on the state of affairs in tribal areas notified under Schedule Five.

 

According to sources, the President, who also enjoys special powers in Schedule Five areas, has sent the report to the tribal affairs ministry. It should have been placed in Parliament after a review by the ministry. But the ministry, due to reasons known to it best, did not do so. “We did not table it in Parliament due to complex procedures and nonavailability of a Hindi version of the report,” A K Dubey, joint secretary of the ministry, says. He does not elaborate“complex procedures”.

 

Since its inception in 2004, the Commission has sent five annual reports to the President. Except for the first one, no report has yet been tabled in Parliament.

 

Review all laws

The latest report indicates constant failure of governors in overseeing developments in Schedule Five areas.

 

The most important responsibility of the governor is to ensure that the special panchayati raj law for tribal areas, known as PESA—Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act—is implemented effectively and any law that contradicts it is put aside. Through a notification, a governor can annul, restrict or modify state and Centre’s regulations without seeking the opinion of the Council of Ministers headed by the chief minister.

 

Governors’ reports rarely mention poor governance, insurgency or displacement

However, according to B D Sharma, the last commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, “All the laws are automatically applicable until the governor does not want to implement or amend as per the need of the Fifth Schedule areas.” As governors fail to perform this duty, general laws have automatically been applicable to tribal areas, often leading to conflicts.

 

 

The confidential report has recommended a review of all laws for their adaptation in Scheduled Areas. Every year the governor is supposed to send a TACs conducted meetings till December 2012. Senior journalist B G Verghese, who has written extensively on the issue, says sarcastically that it is mutely accepted by the Government of India that the governor in the Fifth Schedule, meant to be a “governor-in-council”, is acting on the aid and advice of his council.

The confidential report has recommended a review of all laws for their adaptation in Scheduled Areas. Every year the governor is supposed to send a report to the President on the state of affairs and his/her interventions.

 

The commission has suggested that the ministry of tribal affairs should issue a uniform format for preparation and submission of governor’s report. The format should have a provision for review of Union and state laws and their compatibility with the constitutional provisions safeguarding tribal interests. It should also have a specification for listing steps taken to protect the constitutional rights of tribals.

 

In reviewing laws, governors can consult the Tribes Advisory Councils (TACs) constituted by the states with tribal areas. In the current financial year, four states out of the 11 that have TACs conducted meetings till December 2012. Senior journalist B G Verghese, who has written extensively on the issue, says sarcastically that it is mutely accepted by the Government of India that the governor in the Fifth Schedule, meant to be a “governor-in-council”, is acting on
the aid and advice of his council.

 

The confidential report has recommended making TACs more accountable. The advisory councils should be reconstituted regularly and meet at least twice a year, says the report.

 

Out of focus

Governors’ role in Schedule Five areas has been under scrutiny ever since the enactment of PESA. It gained urgency in the recent past with large-scale industrialisation triggering conflicts in several tribal areas.

 

Governors are not only irregular in sending annual reports to the President (see map), but also evasive on the subjects these reports are meant to address. R R Prasad, director of the National Institute of Rural Development, has analysed such reports. According to him, none of these reports talks about burning issues like displacement, poor governance and insurgency.

 

“The reports are hardly objective assessments as required by the law. Largely, they read like a laundry list of physical targets and financial allocations under various schemes as reported by the state government’s department,” says Prasad. “It is time a more stringent system is put in place so that the annual report truly reflects the condition of tribes in these areas.”

 

There is no proper record of the annual reports submitted to the President. Non-profit Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative sought records on governors’ reports between 1990 and 2008 through the right-to-information route. But the tribal affairs ministry furnished reports dating from only 2001, citing the reason that the ministry was created in October 1999.

 

This is not the first time government’s own wing underscored governors’ negligence in tribal areas. In 2008 and 2011, during governors’ meetings in Delhi, the then president requested them to look into their roles in tribal areas more seriously. In April 2012, the Central government for the first time issued a directive to a governor in respect to his constitutional duty in Scheduled Areas. V Kishore Chandra Deo, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj, asked the governor of Andhra Pradesh to cancel the memorandum of understanding signed for bauxite mining in the state’s Scheduled areas. The governor, however, ignored the directive.

 

The Commission’s report has officially raised an issue that has been simmering for some time now.

 

 

 

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.”

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,234 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,710,939 hits

Archives

July 2018
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
%d bloggers like this: