[permaculture] Support adivasi villages and forest rights in Bastar, India

Ossi Kakko ossi at kulma.net
Mon Mar 10 07:10:07 EDT 2008

Dear all,

  Forest dwelling adivasi-villages in Chhattisgarh, India need urgent
support. These are people with long tradition of
horticulturalist-gatherer way of life and symbiotic relationship within
the environment. Please read forward. Signatories for the appeal should
be sent before 13.3.2008 ...


Ossi Kakko,

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Madhu Sarin <msarin at satyam.net.in>;
Date: Mar 9, 2008 12:30 AM
Subject: [forestrights] Appeal to suspend recognition of forest rights in
Bastar till villagers can return

Dear all,

 As many of you know, even by official admission, at least 644 villages in
the Dantewada and Bijapur districts of Bastar in Chhattisgarh are today
devoid of their residents. While some are surviving in roadside camps,
others have fled to neighbouring forests or other areas to escape the
ongoing violence between salwa judum and naxalites.

 All the same, with the Scheduled Tribes and Other traditional Forest
Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act coming into force, the
Chhattisgarh govt has started implementing it at break neck speed. Even
in the non-salwa judum areas, such speedy and poorly prepared for calling
of gram sabhas is problematic as large numbers of the potential claimants
of rights under the act are away in search of work. But implementing the
act in villages devoid of their inhabitants, and where no gram sabhas can
be called as required under the act, would be a complete perversion of

 However, the state govt reportedly intends to do so. The letter below is
an appeal to the chief minister to suspend implementation of the Act in
such affected areas till the villagers are able to return to their

Could those willing to sign the appeal below to Dr Raman Singh, Chief
Minister of Chhattisgarh, please let me know at msarin at sify.com by the
13th of this month so that the letter with the consolidated list of
signatories be sent by the 15th?



Dr Raman Singh,

Chief Minister,



Appeal to suspend the Recognition of **Forest** Rights
in Dantewada and Bijapur districts till people are able
to return to their villages.*

Dear Dr Raman Singh,

 We welcome the Chhattisgarh government's recent steps to implement the
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of
Forest Rights) Act, 2006. According to the time schedule for implementing
the Act in Chhattisgarh issued by Shri Shivraj Singh, Chief Secretary,
Gram Sabhas for electing forest rights committees were to be convened
betwen February 25 and 29, 2008. The Forest Rights Committees are
expected to invite claims for recognition of forest rights from March 1,
2008, with the entire process being completed by June 30th. Given that
neither the officials nor the villagers yet have a clear understanding of
the provisions of the Act, and the high rates of seasonal migration out
of the state, we are concerned that many eligible claimants may not be
able to make their claims under such a rushed schedule.

However, we are particularly concerned about the rights of those villagers
in Dantewada and Bijapur districts who have been compelled to leave their
villages due to the ongoing Salwa Judum campaign against naxalites. The
total population of about 1200 villages in the two districts is 7.19lakhs,
of which 78.5% is tribal. About 50% of these villages, with an approximate
population of 3.5 lakhs, is currently displaced from their villages. While
about 47,000 are living in roadside camps set up by the state government,
another 40,000 or so have fled to the forest areas of Andhra Pradesh to
escape the ongoing violence between Salwa Judum and naxalites. The
whereabouts of the remaining 2,63,000 villagers from these villages is

In at least 644 abandoned villages in the two districts, no gram sabha
meetings required under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest
Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act for initiating the process of
recognition of rights can be organised under present circumstances. At a
meeting organised by the Department of Tribal Welfare of Andhra Pradesh,
it was decided that the Gutti Koyas who have sought shelter in AP's
forests from the naxal -Salwa Judam violence in Chhattisgarh  will not be
eligible for recognition of land and forest rights in Andhra.. However,
due to being displaced from their own villages, they will not be able to
claim their rights even in their original villages in Chhattisgarh. Their
being deprived of rights in both Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh will be a
terrible  subversion of justice

Consequently, we appeal to you to suspend implementation of the Act in the
affected areas while facilitating speedy return of the villagers to their
own villages. In the meantime, no land should be allocated to outsiders
and no leases or prospecting licenses for minor minerals should be given
in these villages as under PESA, these also require Gram Sabha permission
which is not possible under present circumstances.

Yours sincerely,

(                       )

cc:        Minister, Tribal Affairs

           Commissioner, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

           Prime Minister

           Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs

           Mrs Sonia Gandhi ??

           Mr L.K. Advani ??



> Hi,
> This message is especially for all permaculturalists
> who are involved in projects with tribal people.
> Please follow up the process.
> :) ossi kakko (from fennoscandia)
> -->
> The Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, P R Kyndiah has talked following in
> an interview on 7.1.2008 about his travails in pursuing the Scheduled
> Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest
> Rights) Act, 2006 in India:
> "These organisations from different corners of the world said that the
> Indian Act for the rights of tribals was a landmark law that needed to be
> accepted as a model piece of legislation across the world for indigenous
> people. Being a tribal myself, I feel that the Act has underlined two key
> points. One, it has recognised the fundamental right of the tribal people
> to live with dignity, and two, it has accepted the fact that tribal people
> are conservationists and not destroyers of wildlife and forests. Today, we
> have scientific evidence to prove that the tribals are best preservers of
> the forests."
> "I must admit that implementing this Act is not going to be an easy task.
> We have no precedents in this case to fall on since it is a pioneering
> legislation in the entire world...
> ... the Act has awakened a sleeping giant in the 80 million Indian
> tribals.
> It has awakened them towards their rights ...
> But, yes, my real fear and worry remains about the fraudulent claims which
> could be made by the outsiders to claim the forest land. The encroachers
> are clever and can manipulate evidence to stake claim to grab the land.
> This could even deprive the tribals of their rightful share of land. This
> is my serious worry."
> source:
> http://www.business-standard.com/opinionanalysis/storypage.php?tab=r&autono=309774&subLeft=2&leftnm=4
> background:
> http://www.hindu.com/2007/12/27/stories/2007122757122000.htm

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