India: Anti-POSCO leader is arbitrarily arrestedPublished by MAC on 2011-12-05
Source: Statement, Down to Earth (2011-11-28)
Will Forest Rights Act finally be implemented?
India's Ministry of Tribal Affairs has promised swift implementation of vital provisions of the Forest Rights Act which, though passed five years ago, has failed to be used to protect the rights of millions of the country's ADivasi (indignous) communities.
Late last month, the Orissa state government arrested a prominent Adivasi tribal leader. Abhay Sahoo, whose organisation (PPSS) has been at the forefront of attempts to halt the notorious POSCO project. See:
A statement (below), signed by many prominent Indian citizens and organisations, calling for the release of Abhay Sahoo, is open for additional signatures.
Condemn the Repression on POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and the Likely Immenent Attack on the Peaceful Protestors of the Area
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) statement
28 November 2011
The undersigned condemn the growing brutality of the state repression being unleashed against the peaceful, democratic protesters of the POSCO project area, who are only fighting for their legal and fundamental rights.
This repression has reached a peak with the arrest yesterday (Friday) of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader, Abhay Sahoo. The government's constant announcements of its intention to start construction in the area lead us to apprehend that there will be more violence and brutality against the movement.
This comes after the people of Dhinkia and Gobindpur heroically resisted police attacks for more than two months in the heat of summer, drawing the attention of the entire country to the threat to their thriving economy and fragile ecosystem.
It also comes in the wake of a grossly illegal clearance to the project from the Environment Ministry, in direct violation of the Forest Rights Act and the EIA notification, despite two of the Ministry's own enquiry committees finding that grant of clearance would be a crime.
Moreover, the Centre itself now claims that projects of this kind will be subject, under its proposed new law, to the consent of 80% of the local community - which has been ignored in this case.
Meanwhile, dozens of false cases have been filed against the protesters, and it is worth noting that Abhay Sahoo has received bail from the courts in more than 40 cases so far; but every time he is released, new cases are foisted on him.
Finally, court cases are pending against the illegal clearance to the project in the High Court and in the National Green Tribunal. Despite all this, the Orissa government is continuing its criminal offensive, and the Centre as usual is doing nothing to stop it or to uphold the law.
We condemn this repression, and call for the immediate release of Abhay Sahoo, the dropping of the false cases registered against him and other members of the movement, and the immediate withdrawal of this illegal, unjust and economically destructive project.
1. Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh
2. Alistar Bodra, JJBA & NFFPFW, Jharkhand
3. Amit Bhaduri, Academic, Delhi
4. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
5. Anirban Kar, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University
6. Anu Mandavilli, Mining Zone Peoples' Solidarity Group.
7. Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
8. Arun Kumar, JNU, Delhi
9. Ashok Agarwal, Advocate, Delhi
10. Asit Das, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
11. Balaji Narasimhan
12. Biswajit Mohanty, Academic, Delhi
13. Dipak Roy Choudhury, Kolkata
14. Dr. B D Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan, Delhi
15. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi
16. Elavarthi Manohar, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Bangalore
17. Faisal Khan, NAPM
18. Felix Padel, Anthropologist, Gujarat
19. Humane, Koraput, Odisha
20. Ish Mishra, Delhi University, Delhi
21. Jagadish Chandra, Bangalore
22. Jutta Kill, FERN, UK
23. K P Sasi, Visual Search, Bangalore
24. Kamal Kabra
25. Kamayani Mahabal, Mumbai
26. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, Delhi
27. Kaveri Rajaram, Bangalore
28. Kavita Krishnan, CPI (ML) Liberation, Delhi
29. Kiran Shaheen, Delhi
30. Lalit Batra, University of Minnesota, USA
31. Lalsingh Bhujel, Uttar Banga Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, West Bengal
32. Madhumita Dutta, Campaign for Justice and Peace, Tamil Nadu
33. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People's Movements
34. Malarmannan, English-Tamil Bilingual Columnist and Author
35. Madhusudhan, Andhra Pradesh
36. Mamata Dash, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity & NFFPFW, Delhi
37. Manohar Kothekar, NFFPFW, Maharashtra
38. Manshi Asher, Him Dhara, Environment Research & Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
39. Maya Valecha, Gujarat
40. Meher Engineer
41. Mohan Bhagat, Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
42. Nandita Narain, St.Stephen's College, Delhi
43. National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
44. Partho Sarothi Ray, Sanhati, West Bengal
45. Parvathy Prem, Association for India's Development (AID), USA
46. Praful Bidwai, Columnist, Delhi
47. Prafulla Samantara, Convenor, NAPM
48. Prasad Chacko, Gujarat
49. Preeti Sampat
50. Pushkar Raj, PUCL, Delhi
51. Pushpa Toppo, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand
52. Ra Ravishankar, Mining Zone Peoples' Solidarity Group
53. Rahul Saxena, Himachal Pradesh
54. Rakesh Agarwal, Dehradun
55. Rakesh Ranjan, Delhi University
56. Ramakant Banjare, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
57. Ranjana Padhi, Delhi
58. Ravi Chellam, Bangalore
59. Richard Mahapatra, Down to Earth, Delhi
60. Rinchin, WSS, Madhya Pradesh
61. Rishu Garg
62. Rukmini Rao, Andhra Pradesh
63. Sagari Ramdas, Andhra Pradesh
64. Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand
65. Sayantoni Datta, Independent Researcher, West Bengal
66. Shalini Gera, CMM - Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti, Chattisgarh
67. Shamim, Academic, Mumbai
68. Shankar Gopalkrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, Delhi
69. Sharanya Nayak, Orissa
70. Shiba Desor, Kalpavriksh, Delhi
71. Shivani Chaudhry, Housing and Land Rights Network, Delhi
72. Soma K P, Delhi
73. Soumitra Ghosh, NESPON, West Bengal
74. Souparna Lahiri, NFFPFW, Delhi
75. Subhashini. Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
76. Subrat Kumat Sahu, Independent Journalist and Film Maker, Delhi
77. Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL, Chattisgarh
78. Sukla Sen. EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
79. Suman S
80. Uma V Chandru, WSS & PUCL, Bangalore
81. Tapas Saha, CPI(ML) LIberation
82. Vijay Singh, Delhi
83. Vijayendra, Hyderabad
84. Vinay Bhat
85. Viren Lobo, Delhi
86. Vivek Sundara, HRA, Mumbai
87. VS Roy David, Convenor, National Adivasi Alliance
88. Walter Fernandes, Assam
89. William Nicholas Gomes, Journalist & Human Rights Activist, Dhaka
90. Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
91. Xavier Dias, Editor. Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
Rejected forest rights to be reconsidered: tribal affairs minister
By Richard Mahapatra
Down To Earth
23 November, 2011
It may not be possible to reject land title claims filed under Forest Rights Act in future
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs will soon issue a new set of orders to make Forest Rights Act effective. The orders will be out by the first week of December, says V Kishore Chandra Deo, the Union minister in charge of tribal affairs.
He disclosed this to a gathering of forest dwellers and activists from 12 states who met him in Delhi. Earlier, the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers along with other groups working on forestry had submitted to the minister a set of recommendations on changes in FRA.
- Till end of August, of the 3,149,269 forestland claims received, as many as 1,577,831 (over 50 per cent) were rejected
- Sources in tribal affairs ministry say that the new orders to be issued will include those relating to tribals' access to minor forest produce (as defined in FRA) and directions on processing forest claims
- Declaration of minimum support price for minor forest produce is imminent
- The ministry may order that claims cannot be rejected once filed
- It will issue a new procedure that will make village council decisions on forest claims final
The tribal affairs ministry is currently reviewing the implementation of the Act. There have been widespread complaints of forest officials sabotaging settlement of forestland claims by tribal communities and other forest dwellers.
"Many claims have been unduly rejected. They will be reopened," says Deo, hinting at a major reshuffling of the Act's implementation process. Till end of August, of the 3,149,269 claims received, as many as 1,577,831 (over 50 per cent) were rejected.
Speaking on the very low rate of settlement of community rights over forests, Deo says that the forest department officials are the main culprits. "The provisions for community rights have been grossly misinterpreted and misused mostly by the forest officials in various parts of the country. Community rights are illegally being awarded to joint forest management committees, which are created by the forest department," he says.
In an interview to Down To Earth a few weeks ago, Deo had promised amendments, if needed, to the Act. "If the Act needs to be amended, I will go for it. If some problems can be sorted out by amending rules or giving directions, I will do it," he had said.
FRA will get preeminence
Though details are not available on the proposed changes in the Act, sources say that it will include major clarifications and orders on tribals' access to minor forest produce (as defined in FRA) and directions on processing forest claims.
Sources say the ministry will clarify that FRA takes precedence over restrictive forest legislations like the Indian Forest Act of 1927. Declaration of minimum support price for minor forest produce is imminent. The ministry may order that claims cannot be rejected once filed. It will issue a new procedure that will make village council decisions on forest claims final. "Tribal affairs ministry is the only legal authority for implementing FRA," says Deo.