Sundargarh: Hundreds of tribals marched in a rally on 12th Nov from Stadium and gheraoed the district collectorate demanding implementation of the 5th scheduled constitutional provision in the district. The protest rally was organised under the umbrella banner of Sundargarh Zilla Adiwasi Mulwasi Bachao Manch(SZAMBM) under which a number of community based tribal sangathans from all the blocks across the district participated. On the occasion Mrs Ranjana & Ashok Choudhury from Dungerpur (Rajasthan) joined as guest speaker.
SZAMBM through the protest rally reminded the administration on 5th scheduled status of Sundargarh District which should be governed by Art.244(1) of the constitution. It was alleged that the 5th scheduled provisions are not being honoured and not being implemented in its spirit by the Govt. of Odisha in the state in general and in Sundargarh district in particular.
George Tirkey, the MLA, Biramitrapur, leading the protest rally pointed out that “the Para 5(1) of the Fifth Schedule is not being properly implemented by the Governor of Odisha and on the instruction of Cabinet only without analysing the provisions and its applicability exercising its power, the acts, i.e. “Extension of Odisha Municipality act 1950 to Scheduled Areas vide Notification No.SRO No.743/95, dated 14th August 1995 with effect from 31st May 1994 and extension of Odisha Grama Panchayat Act 1964 to Scheduled Areas vide Notification No.SRO No.327/94, dated 21st April 1994” are illegal, he said.
Challenging the inclusion of rural area under Municipality in Sundargarh district in particular and across the State in general, Augustus Lugun, the senior most tribal leader alleged “Governance in Urban Areas is based on Part IXA of the Constitution of India and since Parliament has not enacted the Act as per Art.243(ZC)(3) of the Constitution of India for the governance of Urban Areas in the Scheduled Areas and since MESA Bill 2001 is pending in the parliament, the act of Government of Odisha is illegal.
Halu Mundary, Ex MLA addressing the public meeting said “the Odisha Regulation 2 of 1956 and the Amendment Act 2002 have been formulated to regulate the land in Scheduled Areas. However, this has been violated in the district. Tribal lands have been transferred rapidly to the non-Tribals and also for commercial institution i.e. Sai Valley, Kuanrmunda, Padmanav Engineering College, Rourkela, Mahavir Ferro Alloys, etc.) And state machinery is failed to protect and restore the Tribal Lands”.
Mrs. Anna Kujur, convenor of the Athkosia Loksangathan affiliated to Campaign for Survival and Dignity, (CSD) joining in the protest said, “forest land constitute 57.16 per cent of the total geographical area of the district including 58.50% revenue forest land 41.50 % reserve forest where tribals and community people depending upon. However, despite claims under FRA, 2006, the district administration has failed to recognise community rights over forest and not a single community right title has been issued in the district even after 8 years of FRA implementation.” She also alleged that IFR titles issued to OTFDs have been arbitrary rejected by the SDLC and DLC. Besides, while no Gram Sabha has rejected any IFR claim of its fellow villagers, 9340 IFR claims have been arbitrarily shown rejected by Gram Sabha by the SDLC.” She said.
The SZAMBM has also questioned the role of Tribes Advisory Council in the State and also the role of Governor in the State. Raising serious concern over influx of outsider in the scheduled areas, SZAMBM had demanded implementation of Art.19(5)(d) of the Constitution of India.
Letha Tirkey, another tribal leader questioned the loopholes in the implementation of central PESA, Act, 2006 in Odisha and said “till now villages in Scheduled Areas are not recognised as per PESA though they try to amend the Odisha Gram Panchayatiraj Act 1964 in 1997.”
Raising basic questions over the implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006, SZAMBM said “since the Government of Odisha has not recognised the villages as per Section 4(b) of the PESA Act, 1996 in the scheduled areas including Sundargarh, Forest Rights Committee(FRC) has not yet been formed in its true letter and spirit.
Besides, SZAMBM has questioned the legality of Odisha Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2015, the concept of Land Bank, “Odisha Land Survey & settlement Act 2012, Vana Surakhya Samiti(VSS), Central CAMPA Fund Act, 2016.
Among others who led the protest rally were Deme Oram, Jablun Ekka, Bagi Lakra, Chakra Mahato, Bande Oram, Champa Oram, Chuka Oram, Mangal Oram, Sabina, Sabitri Bhumij etc.
At the end of the protest rally, a memorandum was submitted to Dr. S.C. Jamir, Hon’ble Governor of Odisha through the Sundargah district collector. In its memorandum submitted, SZAMBM has urged the Governor to immediately intervene in the process of Governance for the Scheduled Areas (both rural and urban areas) and to exercise proclamations in the scheduled areas of Odisha as the State Government has failed to implement the constitutional provisions as per Art. 356.
The important demands put forth by SZAMBM are;
1. Frame the Sundargarh Autonomous District Council (SADC) as per the provisions of “the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India & Sec.4 of the PESA Act 1996.
2. Review the law relating to regulations of Lands as per Para 5(2) of Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India. In particular Land acquired for the development projects like Rourkela Steel Plant, L&T kansbahal, mandira Dam, kansbahal Dam, Pitamahal Dam, kalunga, Lanjiberna Limestone Mines, etc. and ban the IDCO for acquisition of lands for industrial purpose in the Scheduled Areas.
3. Immediately restore the alienated land of Tribals.
4. Stop the concept of Mahanagar Nigam, Smart City, Rourkela Development Authority (RDA) and its expansion, Land Bank, Commissionerate Police in the Scheduled Areas of Sundargarh District in the State of Odisha.
5. Review the laws applicable in Scheduled Areas of Parliament and Assembly like the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAMPA) 2016, Govt. of Odisha Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2015.
6. Review the state declaration of titles distributed under individual (Approx 3,71,000) and community forest (Approx 5300).
7. Immediately stop the programmes of government of Odisha like Vasundhara/Mo Jami Mo Diha in Scheduled Areas as these provisions violates the spirit of the provisions of Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
8. The non-Tribal Chief Ministers should be removed from the Tribal advisory Councils as Chairperson.
9. The deployment of Armed Forces should be removed from the Scheduled Areas of Odisha.
10. Without Gram Sabha approval, no project should be taken up which is unconstitutional.
11. The applications received by the traditional forest dwellers should be attended immediately. IFR titles of Hemgiri and Lepripara OTFDs cancelled by SDLC should be immediately withdrawn.