Swami Agnivesh backs Rourkela tribals opposing proposed civic corporation

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    BHUBANESWAR: Social campaigner Swami Agnivesh has thrown his weight behind tribals, opposing formation of Rourkela Municipal Corporation.

    The tribals are opposing the government move to merge the gram panchayats in the vicinity with the corporation as the same would deprive them of the rights of gram sabhas. Sundargarh being a scheduled area, the government needs consent of gram sabhas for any project in the area. Under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA), gram sabhas self-govern their natural resources in scheduled areas. Agnivesh said merging the tribal villages with the corporation will ruin their life and livelihood. “If the state government fails to respond, there will be a sustained agitation. The matter will also be taken up in available forums of the world to protect the human rights of tribals,” Agnivesh told the media after visiting Rourkela.

    Agnivesh said a memorandum was submitted to governor S C Jamir in this regard. Lily Kujir, member of Sundargarh Zilla Adivasi Bachao Manch, which is spearheading the anti-corporation protest, said the government had ignored all norms while establishing Rourkela Steel Plant making hundreds of tribals homeless and jobless. “We will not allow a repeat of similar situation for the corporation,” she said.

    Source: The Time of India