Mr. Pranab Mukharjee
Hon’ble President Of India,
Rastrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. India.
(Through Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, on the Ocaasion of 142nd Veer Birsa Munda Jayanti Celebration, Bhubaneswar, Odisha)
Sub: For Peace and good government in Scheduled Areas and Development among Scheduled Tribes.
Dear President of India,
We, the undersigned representing from different Adivasi/ Tribal groups of Odisha place before you the following concerns on the 142nd ‘Veer Birsa Munda Jayanti Celebration’ at Bhubaneswar, Odisha, gathered about 50,000 for your immediate intervention and deliver justice to the tribals.
There is a virtual collapse of the constitutional machinery, in the administration of Scheduled Areas of our State. The growing extremism and violence in scheduled areas has already created an atmosphere of insecurity, fear and misery with loss of lives of so many innocent tribals.
We, the Adivasis of Odisha are going through a crisis and facing toughest challenge to our survival and are on the way to siege. The insensitivity, apathy and wilful negligence by the State, through its Governance and bureaucracy system in the last 69 years of Independent of the Country are the proof by itself. We have more miseries and slavery than freedom and dignity. We are facing largest ever armed assault by the State in the name of Green hunt, Maoist combing operation etc. to hand over the Natural Resources to corporate. We are dispossessed and displaced from our ancestral land and our territories. The police who is to safe guard and protect the life and property of Schedule Areas (SA) and Schedule Tribes (STs) are excess on Adivasis and hundreds of innocent Adivasis are languishing in the jails. We are facing systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and economic power. We continue to be over-represented among the poorest, the illiterate, and the destitute. The specific laws and rules to govern the Scheduled Areas (SA) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the country and in the State are not implemented.
Henceforth request your valuable time and attention for the following measures to bring access to justice and justice delivery system in the scheduled areas:
Tribal Governance and Administration
- As per para 2 of 5th Schedule of the constitution, the state government or for that matter the Governor, as the head of the state directly holds the executive power over the schedule areas. So a ‘Tribal Cell’ that would deal with schedule areas and schedule tribes be put in place in the office of the Governor.
- The ‘Tribal Cell’ should be opened at the Governor’s office for the administration of schedule areas and ITDA should be given adequate and efficient human and other resources. ITDA should function as a nodal agency at district level so that tribal need not be harassed in different offices.
- As per para 3 of the 5th Schedule of the constitution the governor should dispatch an annual report or a report as and when required by the president of India to the President concerning the state of affairs prevailing in Schedule Areas. But it’s a matter of great regret neither the STs nor the public at large are knowing of such reports if any being sent to President of India ever since the proclamations of the constitutions. It’s therefore earnestly urged that the governor should himself ensure timely preparation and dispatch of such constitutionally mandatory reports and also their wide scale circulation among the STs in particular and public in general.
- Ensure a strong functioning of ‘Tribal Advisory Council’ (TAC) of the state which has become defunct.
- ‘NO’ to Punishment Postings, Single line administration; Imbibing the spirit of Self-Governance as in PESA Act 1996.
- The financial management of the SAs /MADA/Clustered/ PVTGs/ Micro projects be separate. It needs to be administered through TAC and Ministry of ST department and ITDAs and not through district administration (Collector). The Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) and other fund for the benefit of the STs should be administered and monitored by ITDA. The ITDA should spend the money as per the plan and decision of the Gram Sabha.
- Establishment of a ‘Tribal Commission’ in Odisha for monitoring the issues and problems of tribals in the state in view of ensuring their development with dignity.
- Establishment of the ‘Autonomous District Councils’ (ADCs) as per the 5th Schedule of the Constitution. These councils should be given Legislative, Administrative and Judicial powers. No law of the Centre or the State in respect of the legislative powers conferred on the Autonomous District Councils could be extended to those areas without their prior approval. The district councils should be empowered to constitute Village councils and also Village courts.Establish ‘Regional level Councils’ for Adivasis in the line of 6th schedule of the Constitution, i.e., in North-East states of India. The Tribal Chiefs of Odisha shall be there in DAC as members and Executives.
- Update the lists of the schedule tribes under the article No. 342 of the constitution and as per the PESA 4 (n). Revision of the boundaries of 5th Schedule areas as per para 6 and 7 of 5th Besides the state tribe advisory council and governor should recommend to the president of India for covering certain tribes e.g Saara, Jhodia, Paharia, Kamar, Kanda Dora and other Adivasi communities a total of 147 recommended by the state in the list of the ST of the article 342 of the constitution.
- Take stern action against the traffickers of tribal girls who fall prey to the allurements of making quick money in cities. Take immediate action to bring back all the tribal girls who have been trafficked, ensure their safety in the place of destination and make a roadmap for their employment in their place of origin.
- A drastic revision of the extension and boundaries of the Schedule Areas in Odisha is required as per para 6th and 7th of the Fifth Schedule of the constitutio
Implementation of PESA 1996
- Recognize village/ward self-rule in our homelands. – PESA, being the core content. It is because PESA 4(b) defines the village for the first time in the Constitution (also accepted in the Forest Rights Act, 2006) and acknowledges the competence of the traditional governance system as well as the control over natural resources by the village community, the ‘Gram Sabha’.
- The State police without much verification accuses the innocent tribal on false and fabricated cases. Many are in jails in the name of Maoists,…etc. Immediate release of all innocent tribals who are languishing in jails. Drop all charges against them at once.
- Stop the “Selling of liquor” in tribal areas as per PESA 4(m) (i) and NOT as envisaged in the 1974 Excise policy of the Central Government; Respect the authority of Gram Sabha to control over use of liquor.
- In view of the transfer of power over issue of certificate in respect of caste, marriage, birth, residence and death from Gram panchayat/tehsils/collectors..etc., the tribals are As per section 4 (d) of PESA Act 1996, the Gram Sabhas or the Tribal chiefs in Scheduled areas in Odisha should be authorized to issue such certificates.
- Extend 74th Amendment to the Scheduled Areas by enacting suitable law by the Parliament; End the constitutional violations in urbanizing the Scheduled Areas by withdrawing the illegal extension of State Municipal Laws as per Art.243 ZC of the constitution.
- None of the three principal Panchayat laws ( Odisha Gram Panchayat (OGP) Act 1964, Panchayat Samiti Act 1959 and Zilla Parishad Act 1991 ) in Odisha are complied to 73rd constitutional amendment act 1992 ( now part IX of the constitution) and also the PESA Act 1996; because such panchayat laws have bestowed substantial powers of control and domination over the Gram Sabha and panchayat in all areas in schedule or non-schedule area. So Odisha should replace these three laws by a single consolidated panchayat laws in Scheduled Areas and in conformity to the letter and spirit of the part IX of the constitution and PESA Act 1996. The effort is to be made to evolve the Gram Sabha as an institution which will have a decision making authority.
- Amend and change all the subject laws of the Centre and the states g i.The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957,ii. Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act 1957, iii. Compensatory a Forestation, management and Planning Authority Act 2016… etc are in conformity with the letter and the spirit of PESA, particularly with reference to the provisions of sections 4(b) and 4(d);
- The existing state laws like Land Reform Act 1860, Government land settlement act 1954, OPLE Act 1972 along with OSATIP 1956 (Regulation-2) along with schemes like ‘Mo Jami Mo Diha’ and ‘Basundhara ‘to be drastically amended in confirming to Item-2 of 11th Schedule of the Constitution and PESA 1996.
Land and Displacement
- Stop police repression on Adivasis and all anti-displacement mass movements such as anti-POSCO, anti-Vedanta, Khandadhar Maikanch, Lanziberna,and the Kalinganagar movements. Withdraw false cases against the anti-displacement leaders and activists. As per LARR Act 2013, land unused for 5 years by company or business houses, should be returned to the original owner.
- Acquisition of land must be with the free, prior and informed consent of people and Gram Sabha, as prescribed in the PESA 1996, FRA 2006, LAAR 2013,Samata Judgement and Recent Supreme Court judgement on Niyamagiri 2013.
- Enforce the Orissa Scheduled Area Transfer of Immovable Property (OSATIP) Regulation 2 of 1956 and restrict the transfer of patta land of tribals to non-tribals. Land acquisition through IDCO should be stopped in Scheduled Areas.
- Return all unlawfully alienated land to their original tribal owners, and Other land related Matters: settle Encroached Government Land, in favour of tribals, dalits and small farmers:
- A large number of tribal families have lost their lands due to unscrupulous money lenders, and other vested interests through unlawful deals and transactions. In addition, a large number of tribal farmers have been cultivating land for several generations that is still not recorded in their name. Very often, such land is usurped by vested interests through nefarious deals or through money lending and usury. The Fifth Schedule and Regulation 2 of1956 should be implemented.
- Land reforms have taken but limited effect in the Fifth Scheduled areas. Much of the land settled in the name of the tribals, is still in possession of the land lords. Such cases should be reviewed and urgent steps taken to restore the ceiling surplus land to its rightful owner.
- Ensure that the industries first implement complete relief and rehabilitation in the existing and abandoned projects before fresh leases are granted for mining more lands and displacing more people in the green field areas.
- Gram Sabhas, should be empowered to decide on these cases, in keeping with section 4(m)(iii) of the PESA Act 1996. In addition, Land Tribunals or Fast Track Courts under Article 323-B of the Constitution should be set up for expeditious redressal of such cases, in consultation with the Gram Sabha. The OSDLR need to be strengthened as first Track Court and the tribal land cases should be dealt promptly.
Non implementation of protective legislation like FRA 2006
- Confer individual and community Rights to people under Scheduled Tribe and other traditional forest dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 soon.
- Recognise the Gram/Ward sabha’s power to protect and manage forests, own non-timber forest produce under the FRA 2006, and obtaining Gram Sabha’s informed consent for forest diversion for projects; . Steps must be taken to protect the indigenous tribal knowledge of plants and their use. Demarcation of FRA land as given in the title should be done.
- All the forest villages should be given the status of Revenue villages with immediate effect. There are 48,061 revenue villages in Odisha. Besides, based on the 2001 census report, the govt. of Odisha has identified 587 forest villages/un surveyed villages in the district. Besides, there are more hundreds of such villages located in the reserve forest area which needs to be identified. The land given to the individuals under ‘Vasundhara Scheme’ is a big manipulation by the State. It is not an Act.FRA is the Act, and hence FRA needs to be implemented.
- Recognize the traditional community forest management in Odisha which is an impeccable symbol of democratic, egalitarian and sustainable socio-economic and cultural units exhibiting the advanced structures and sustainable models on which traditional Indian economies are built.
- The existing Odisha minor forest produce ( administration )Rule 2002 is ultra virus to the FRA 2006, since the former give the ultimate power of price fixation to the district collector and power of penalty to DFO, whereas the Gram Sabha is the ultimate authority of the right over minor forest produce as per section 6 of Forest Rights act 2006.
- The Kendu leaves pluckers should have the right to 100% profits be distributed to Adivasi. The Transit Permit should be with Gram Sabha.
- In view of the firm provision made in FRA that the gram sabha and forest right committee to act as the competent authorities in the matter of all the forest rights. The so called ‘Odisha Joint forest management resolution 2002’ , ‘Ama Jungle Yoyana’ which entrust substantial power to forest officials over the holders of forest rights is against the letter and spirit of FRA 2006. No way FRA rights be diluted by the State.
- The government of Odisha ought to jettison its skewed implementation of FRA which is evident from the utter neglect of the community rights over forest land and forest resource and also recognition of forest rights of the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers. The ‘Van Surakhya Samittee ‘ (VSS) must be done away in the process of FRA.
- Recognise and respect the gram/ward sabha’s power to protect and manage forests, own non-timber forest produce under the FRA 2006, and obtaining Gram Sabha’s informed consent for forest diversion for projects;
- Number of laws, policies and programs implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Forests potentially dilute protective legislation (FRA, PESA) and violate rights of tribals. Notable ones are the Compensatory A forestation Act, 2016, (CAMPA) the proposal for privatization of forests, notification of Village Forest Rules in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, promotion and strengthening of the Joint Forest Management, plantation in land occupied and used by tribals for livelihoods.
Rights of PVTGs
- The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) among the tribes need special attention due to their vulnerability in the present situation. Their customary right to land, forest and sources of livelihood must be respected and protected.
- Habitat Rights of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) have to be recognised.
- The micro projects meant for the PVTGs need to be included all their villages.
Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP)
- Bring a new legislation on Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) for prohibiting diversion of TSP money in no-tribal areas and bringing transparency and accountability.
- All the development of the area under the Tribal Sub- Plan should be planned and administered by the Gram Sabhas as per the PESA Act 1996.
- Special allocation must be made for first implementation of forest rights act, National bio-diversity act and Panchayat (Extension to Schedule Areas Act) PESA.
- Inclusion of tribals Chiefs, Gram Sabha members for planning of money allocated in the District Minerals Fund and TSP.
- In view of the fact that the Right To Education Act 2009, recognizes right of every child to elementary education in his / her mother tongue, which is so far denied to the children in schedule areas. The government of Odisha should immediately bring a state policy on mother tongue based preschool in tribal areas, appointment of tribal anganwadi workers, teachers, culture and appropriate curriculum.
- An exhaustive inventory of the tribal languages are be built up and the entire gamut of oral traditions to be given written form in different Indian languages.
- All education institutions that are indulging in educating Non tribal cultures (genocide of Tribal culture) must be banned including Ashram Schools/ SC&ST School…..etc.
- To address the problem of low representation of the tribals in higher education, it is necessary to refurbish primary and secondary school education through special coaching.
- Institutions of ITDAs/ITDPs and micro-projects support to the tribal schools should be strengthened for prevention of dropouts.
- Tribal traditional food like millets should be included in the PDS across the state.
- Implement the recommendations of Report of the High Level Committee on Socio-Economic, Health and Educational status of tribal communities of India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India May, 2014 without delay. The Committee was mandated to prepare a position paper on the present socio-economic, health and educational status of STs, and is expected to suggest policy initiatives as well as effective outcome-oriented measures to improve development indices and strengthen public service delivery to the Scheduled Tribes.
- The Government of India should ratify ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous Peoples.
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 should be effectively imp
- A definite ‘State Tribal policy’ on governance in SAs is to be made with A ‘State Tribal Commission’, ‘State Tribal Service Commission’ and ‘Separate administrative structure’ with preference to the Tribal youths be given for peace and good government (Participation, decision making and executive ) in SAs and STs are the need.
- OBC communities shall be provided adequate Financial assistance by OBCEFDCC.
- The writ petition shall be filed be the State government in hon’ble Supreme court of India for 27% reservation government jobs in stead of 11.25% .of OBC communities .
We are hopeful in the honourable President as you are the custodian for the SAs and STs and looking forward for immediate action,
Mr. Laxmidhar Behera Mr. Manos Jena Mr. Madhusudan Yadav Mrs. Veronica
Dung Dung Mr. Nicholas Barla Mr.Bhajmohan Behera.
Copy sent to:
- S.C Jameer, Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Custodian for Scheduled Areas & STs.
- Nabin Patnaik, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha.
- Lal Bihari Hemirika, Hon’ble Minister, ST Develoopment, GoO.