BHUMI ADHIKAAR ANDOLAN
10 years of Forest Rights Act
Jantar Mantar, 15th December, 2016
Forest dwelling communities, tribal activists, people’s movements and farmer’s unions from Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Andhra Pradesh converged at Jantar Mantar to mark 10 years of the enactment of the Scheduled Tribe and other Forest Dwellers, Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006.
The programme was addressed by Ashok Chaudhary and Roma (AIUFWP), Dayamani Barla (Adivasi, Moolvaasi, Astitva Raksha Manch), Brinda Karat (CPM),Prafulla Samantra (Lok Sahakti Abhiyan – NAPM), Manorama (Posco Movement), Jai Karan Dayal (AIKKMS), N. K. Shukla (ABKS), Jitendra Chaudhary (CPM), Krishna Rao (Adivasi Aikya Vedika), Dr. Sheikh Gulaam Rasool (J&K RTI movement), Mata Dayal (AIUFWP), Varsha Bai, Ram Chandra Rana (AIUFWP), Vimal Bhai (Matu Jansangathan), Suneet Chopra (AIKS), Sunilam (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM) among others.
The speakers launched a scathing attack against the distressing lack of political commitment from the governments at the States and Centre regarding FRA implementation and denounced the ongoing efforts to dilute this significant and progressive law by reducing the authority of the Gram Sabhas in favor of corporate interests.
“Within 2 months of coming to power, the Modi government facilitated the transfer of 7,000 hectares of forest land to mining and other companies. In the last two years, over 1,00,000 hectares of land has been handed over to companies with utter disregard for due procedures. This while the government makes no attempt to amend the requirement from forest dependent communities to produce residential proof for 75 years to stake claim to their own land.” - Brinda Karat (CPM)
“While the FRA is yet to be meaningfully implemented, the BJP government in Jharkhand has launched an attack on protection given to tribal land by amending Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. In protest, people organized numerous mass rallies. Within 50 days, 7 people have been killed. Adivasis have a right to their forests, hills and rivers and to live with dignity. The government is intent on destroying the democratic structure in the country.” - Dayamani Barla
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs in its guidelines to the State and UT governments, dated July 12th, 2012 has noted the lack of implementation of FRA in no uncertain terms (quote in the memorandum attached). However, no actions are forthcoming from the Ministry towards addressing this condition.
Such an apathetic response 10 years after FRA was passed by the Parliament is deeply condemned by people’s movements from across the country under the banner of Bhumi Adhikaar Andolan (BAA).
In its 8-point charter of demands, BAA has called for the immediate constitution of a nation-wide review and monitoring committee for implementation. This committee is to investigate the high percentage of rejection of claims, undue delay in settlement of individual and community claims and coerced eviction of forest dwelling communities. BAA also made demands for complete verification of illegal forest committees and immediate settlement of community rights claims over Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), along with stopping all diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.
A delegation of representatives from BAA met and submitted a memorandum with their demands to Shri Jual Oram, Minister of Tribal Affairs. The forum has demanded swift and immediate action.
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