Ganjam Zilla Adivasi Manch affiliated to Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) Odisha organized a regional level Convention on FRA in Berhampur on Friday. Around 100 Community leaders and Forest Rights Committee (FRC) Members from different districts of South Zone – Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagarda, Malkangiri, Nabarangapur, Kandhamal, Boudha, Kalahandi, and Nuapada participated in the convention.
Joining the Convention, CSD National Convenor Pradip Prabhu gave national overview on the implementation of Forest Rights Act. Addressing gathering he said, “FRA is a historic constitutional reform where the Community People(Gram Sabha) for the first time have recognized as the “Authority” over its village and forest. FRA not only recognizes individual and community rights over forest land and forest but also has empowered the community people to protect and manage the forest without Forest Department. However, looking to the status of recognition of Community Forest Rights in different States, and the illegal attempts of State’s Forest Departments to reestablish it’s Jamindari over forest through illegal “Village Forest Rules” in Maharashtra and “Ama Jungle Yojana” in Odisha through Joint Forest Management (JFM)/Vanasarankhyana Samittee(VSS) which are in direct contradiction with FRA. He called upon the tribal and the forest dwellers of the South Zone of Odisha to counter and fight against this conspiracy”.
Commenting on the recognition of Community Forest Rights in Ganjam district Purna Chandra Pradhan, President of Zilla Adivasi Manch presiding over the convention said while we have submitted hundreds of CFR claim in both B and C form at SDLC level, the district administration have haphazardly distributed only 24 CFR titles as claimed in B form. All these Community Forest Rights titles issued in the districts are faulty in nature.
Ranjit Pangi sharing the FRA implementation in Koraput, Rayagarda, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur said while Govt. of Odisha claiming to be No.1 in all over the country in distributing highest number of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) titles, in all these districts most of the IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation/verification of the forest plots leading to conflicts within the community.”
Mrs. Sujata Sahoo, SC/SD Deputy, Director representing the South Zone, Revenue Division Commissioner heard all the FRA implementing issues of different districts and assured the participants to review the FRA implementation during the RDC level meeting.
Among others, Rabi Rath, Senior journalist, Berhampur Pradip Sahoo, Simanchal Nayak, Manohar Chauhan, members of CSD, Odisha joined and addressed the gatherings. A memorandum have been submitted to the RDC, Berhampur demanding recognition of Community Forest Rights, conversion forest and un-surveyed villages in to revenue village, withdrawal of forest all cases against tribal and forest dwellers etc.