Over 500 people associated with different social movements, democratic struggles and Trade Unions from different states of the country gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi today, on the historic day of enactment ofSchedule Tribe and other Forest Dwellers, Recognition of Forest Rights Act in 2006. We collectively pledge to continue our struggle against the NDA government’s proposed illegal move to dilute the Forest Rights Act bypassing the Parliament of India. A delegation from the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan met with the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram at 12 pm who assured them that he will raise these issues in the Parliament.
The Forest Rights Act 2006 is a landmark in the history of indigenous people in this country whose rights have time and again been neglected by the state. The FRA was enacted to correct this historic injustice meted to our people and restore their rights over their forests, land and water. The Act ensures individual tenure rights over cultivable land and more importantly collective ownership rights over all NTFP and forest based resources to the Gram Sabhas and those duly elected by the community members. However, the government neglected in effectively implementing such a progressive Act meant to bring about a structural change in forest governance.
At this same time, the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization is to be held in Nairobi, Kenya (15-18 December). WTO has repeatedly pushed forward the agenda of the developed nations and has sidelined the real concerns of developing nations like India.
Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan) declared that we all have come together with the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan to denounce the proposal of change of law in FRA. She blamed the government for not implementing them even after the gram sabha passed a resolution for it. The NRI PM of ours has already been declared as anti-farmer and in some time he will be called anti-tribal too. She stated that though the negotiations would have started in Nairobi, we hope the government does not proceed to sell off our lands there. She extended her support to the OccupyUGC movement and also condemned the CBI raid in Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office. She also warned that the country is moving towards a state of emergency.
Roma, General Secretary, All India Union of Forest Working People said the reason of having the Chetavani rally is to remind the government that the people will oppose the governmental move to sell of our lands to the corporates. The government thinks that we will be content with the delcaration of FRA, but we will not end our struggle until it is properly implemented. She stated that the forest people does not accept the 31stDecember deadline that the government has given and reminded that the BJP remember the Delhi and Bihar election results and the power of the electorate. The withdrawal of the Land Acquisition ordinance is our victory and we will continue our fight for our land and our rights.
Dr. Sunilam, Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti blamed the lack of political will in government for the non-implementation of FRA till date. He brought to notice the Chindwara (MP) region, where the tribal lands went under Adani’s control and the government is siding with the corporates and not the people. The governemnt assumes that they can stop us from democratic struggles by imposing 144. But such restrictions cannot stop us as our fight is for fundamental and legal rights.
Ashok Chowdhary, All India Union of Forest Working People appealed to the media and stated that they need to support and highlight such struggles of people. He declared that water, food and land are some of our main issues, and everything has to be addressed together. He also warned that siding with corporates will only ruin our country.
Krishna Prasad (All India Kisaan Sabha), Jarjum Ete (AIUFWP), P.C Tiwari (Uttarakhand), Dinesh Abrol, Gautam Mody (NTUI), Ghuman Singh, Amulya Naik, Panibhai, Trilojan Punji, Avdesh Kumar, Mata Dayal, Kailash Awasya (NBA), Sucheta De (AISA), Anubhuti (Occupy UGC), Virendra Vidrohi (Rajasthan), Shobha (AIUFWP), Balkeeshwar (AIUFWP), Madhuresh (NAPM), Vijay (NBA), Tarun Joshi (Uttarakhand) and represenatives from All India Krishak Khet Masdoor Sanghatan salso addressed the gathering.
The Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan made the following demands from the elected representative who is entrusted with the protection and safeguard the interests of common working citizens of India:
- Implement Forest Rights Act in letter and spirit, ensure collective rights of the communities and stay away from making any changes to the Act
- Strengthen Environmental Laws and withdraw Environment Law (Amendment) Bill 2015
- Reject the imperialist agenda of WTO and reclaim national policy in the interest of the marginalised sections and not bow down to the corporate pressure.
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