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Politics Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Odisha Forest Department cuts down traditional trees, destroys livelihood of forest workers

Tribals alleged that the forest department wanted to do commercial plantation and cut down traditional trees important for their livelihood

Sabrangindia 29 May 2020

Odisha

The Odisha Forest Department is coming under fire from tribal activists for violating forest rights norms during the lockdown. Earlier, activists had reported that it had demolished the homes of 32 tribal families in the Kalahandi district, leaving forcing people to suffer in the sweltering summer heat.

Now, grossly violating the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Forest Department officials in Odisha’s Kandhamal district are trying to destroy the biodiversity of the traditional community forest, tribals of the Pidadamaha village in Daringbadi block have alleged.

Ninety tribal families living at Pidadamaha have complained that the Forest Department is trying to ruin the natural biodiversity through forcible commercial plantation without the consent of their Gram Sabha. They also said that the police had threatened to displace them from the forest if they objected.

Speaking to Sabrang India, Prafulla Samantara, Green Nobel Prize Winner and President, Lok Shakti Abhiyan said, “I had written to the Governor of Odisha regarding this matter on May 17. The traditional trees like Mango, Amla, Kendu, Mahula etc. are a source of their livelihood and people had protected them. The Forest Department wanted to do commercial plantation there. In light of this, the villagers gave a memorandum to the government. We also put this news out in the press. However, even then, two days ago, the Forest Department went ahead and cut trees in around 7 to 8 acres of the forest. Now, the villagers have started a protest against the Forest Department.”

“I wrote to the Governor again on May 28, reminding him of the matter and sent him photos of the area as well. The authorities are taking undue advantage of the lockdown. People are returning to their villages during this time. They should have some guarantee for their livelihood, but even that is being erased. Forest Rights are being violated. The land belongs to the tribals. When the Gram Sabha didn’t give consent, how did the Forest Department go ahead to cut down the trees? The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds which are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities are being mis-utilized by the authorities,” he added. 

He also said that the trees that were destroyed, provided food, medicines and money to the tribal villagers. Though these are seasonal plants, these are their forest produce which help them sustain for six months. He questioned, "These are natural forests which aid a sustainable livelihood. Why would you destroy them for commercial plantation. Doing so only means it is done for the industries and not for the Adivasis. The people are not asked for their consent in these matters. They haven't even been given land pattas under forest rights. By what right is the department doing this?"

On May 17, Samantara had written to the Governor of Odisha about the incident stating that while he couldn’t get a field report due to the lockdown. He said that he was fully engaged with grassroots activists to protect the rights of tribals as well as the conservation of natural forests. He said that he was informed by the President of the Jungle Adhikar Committee of the village about the actions of the forest department. Stating that the tribal families had continued to protect the natural trees of the community for years, he wrote to the Governor saying, “Within two days, the Forest Department destroyed traditional trees like Kendu, Mahula, Mango, Amla, Bahada, etc. This is the murder of family members to bring aliens as enemy to the forest. The tribal villagers of Hatimunda Gram Panchayat are sitting in protest against killing of such trees in more than 5 acres of forest land belonging to the Gram Sabha of 90 tribal families.”

Saying that the actions of the Forest Department were undemocratic, inhuman and unconstitutional in the Scheduled Area, he asked the Government to intervene and protect the rights of tribals asking the forest department to desist from commercial plantation and encroach the habitat, apart from providing the villagers compensation for the destruction of the community forest.

PLEASE EMBED PHOTOS HERE

ODisha Forest Dept

ODisha Forest Dept

ODisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Related:

32 tribals homes demolished in Kalahandi Odisha
All Assam Students’ Union protests coal mining in Dehing Patkai forest
Raging inferno Jharia treads on hot coals as Centre opens up mining for private sector
Draft environmental impact notification (EIA) doom for natural resources, forests, withdraw it: NAPM

Odisha Forest Department cuts down traditional trees, destroys livelihood of forest workers

Tribals alleged that the forest department wanted to do commercial plantation and cut down traditional trees important for their livelihood

Odisha

The Odisha Forest Department is coming under fire from tribal activists for violating forest rights norms during the lockdown. Earlier, activists had reported that it had demolished the homes of 32 tribal families in the Kalahandi district, leaving forcing people to suffer in the sweltering summer heat.

Now, grossly violating the Forest Rights Act, 2006, Forest Department officials in Odisha’s Kandhamal district are trying to destroy the biodiversity of the traditional community forest, tribals of the Pidadamaha village in Daringbadi block have alleged.

Ninety tribal families living at Pidadamaha have complained that the Forest Department is trying to ruin the natural biodiversity through forcible commercial plantation without the consent of their Gram Sabha. They also said that the police had threatened to displace them from the forest if they objected.

Speaking to Sabrang India, Prafulla Samantara, Green Nobel Prize Winner and President, Lok Shakti Abhiyan said, “I had written to the Governor of Odisha regarding this matter on May 17. The traditional trees like Mango, Amla, Kendu, Mahula etc. are a source of their livelihood and people had protected them. The Forest Department wanted to do commercial plantation there. In light of this, the villagers gave a memorandum to the government. We also put this news out in the press. However, even then, two days ago, the Forest Department went ahead and cut trees in around 7 to 8 acres of the forest. Now, the villagers have started a protest against the Forest Department.”

“I wrote to the Governor again on May 28, reminding him of the matter and sent him photos of the area as well. The authorities are taking undue advantage of the lockdown. People are returning to their villages during this time. They should have some guarantee for their livelihood, but even that is being erased. Forest Rights are being violated. The land belongs to the tribals. When the Gram Sabha didn’t give consent, how did the Forest Department go ahead to cut down the trees? The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds which are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities are being mis-utilized by the authorities,” he added. 

He also said that the trees that were destroyed, provided food, medicines and money to the tribal villagers. Though these are seasonal plants, these are their forest produce which help them sustain for six months. He questioned, "These are natural forests which aid a sustainable livelihood. Why would you destroy them for commercial plantation. Doing so only means it is done for the industries and not for the Adivasis. The people are not asked for their consent in these matters. They haven't even been given land pattas under forest rights. By what right is the department doing this?"

On May 17, Samantara had written to the Governor of Odisha about the incident stating that while he couldn’t get a field report due to the lockdown. He said that he was fully engaged with grassroots activists to protect the rights of tribals as well as the conservation of natural forests. He said that he was informed by the President of the Jungle Adhikar Committee of the village about the actions of the forest department. Stating that the tribal families had continued to protect the natural trees of the community for years, he wrote to the Governor saying, “Within two days, the Forest Department destroyed traditional trees like Kendu, Mahula, Mango, Amla, Bahada, etc. This is the murder of family members to bring aliens as enemy to the forest. The tribal villagers of Hatimunda Gram Panchayat are sitting in protest against killing of such trees in more than 5 acres of forest land belonging to the Gram Sabha of 90 tribal families.”

Saying that the actions of the Forest Department were undemocratic, inhuman and unconstitutional in the Scheduled Area, he asked the Government to intervene and protect the rights of tribals asking the forest department to desist from commercial plantation and encroach the habitat, apart from providing the villagers compensation for the destruction of the community forest.

PLEASE EMBED PHOTOS HERE

ODisha Forest Dept

ODisha Forest Dept

ODisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Odisha Forest Dept

Related:

32 tribals homes demolished in Kalahandi Odisha
All Assam Students’ Union protests coal mining in Dehing Patkai forest
Raging inferno Jharia treads on hot coals as Centre opens up mining for private sector
Draft environmental impact notification (EIA) doom for natural resources, forests, withdraw it: NAPM

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