Terror of the Forest Department Continues even after the Forest Rights Act

14 & 15 January 2012, Jashpur. On 14 January the Jansatyagarah Yatra reached village Chiknipani of Jashpur district where a public meeting had been organised. Tribal leader of Bhichupani village Shri Nehru said that in the Pathalgaon, Jhimki, Khuntapani region claims filed by the Pahadi Korva tribe were not being accepted even though the village forest rights committee had been formed as per the guidelines issued by the forest department. The tribal people have not been given priority even in the formation of these committees. Tribal leader Shri Ajit Saye said that the benefits of the schemes administered by the Pahadi Korva Development Authority are not reaching the people and most villages are even today without any basic facilities and infrastructures. Shri Mahendrasaye Paikara of Tarekela said that in his village tribal people had filed claims for 80 acres of cultivated forestland but now the forest department is planting trees on that land. Shri Kartik Kumar, district coordinator Ekta Parishad said that according to the available official data 13,319 claims were filed in Jashpur district of these only 3554 were accepted leading to the settlement of 1769.67 hectares of land. However written information about the rejected claims has still not reached the applicants therefore they will not be able to appeal this decision within the prescribed time period.

On 15 January a Public Hearing was held at Bhelwa village of Jashpur district where more than 200 representatives from 15 villages came together. Shri Mahesh of Bhelwa village said that from his village 74 people had filed claims for forestland but instead of the administration taking action on these the forest department has begun planting tree on the land. Shri Sunder Saye of Pataibahar village said that the village forest committee in his village is still being controlled by the forest department as a result 60 claims that were filed were rejected by the committee at the Gram Sabha level itself. Shri Nandlal of Kotli village said that the forest department has started planting trees on 90 acres of forestland for which claims have been filed and the people have received threats that their crops would be destroyed if they dare to complain against this action. Shri Roopdhar of Jamtoli village said that in his village 105 claims had been filed but only 17 were accepted and the forest department satarted plantation work on the forestland cultivated by the other claimants. Shri Kartik Ram, district coordinator Ekta Parishad said that more than 1000 people from the region would participate in the Jansatyagrah 2012 beginning 2 October. The next stop of the samvad yatra was at village Lailunga in Raigadh where the elected representatives of the panchayats announced that they would stage a parallel movement in support of Jansatyagrah 2012. The last stop of the samvad yatra was at village Durgapur of Raigadh district where in 2003 Ekta Parishad had supported 20 families to start cultivation on 60 acres of land and subsequently all the families filed claims under the Forest Rights Act but till date there has been no action on their claims.

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