Rights of the Disadvantaged on the occasion of Martyr’s Day

30 January 2012, Kandhmal

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On 30 January the first halt of the samvad yatra was at ‘Antodaya Chetna Mandal’ in Kandhmal district. This organization was started by a group of Gandhians in 1983 with the objective of bringing about cooperation and feeling of brotherhood among various castes and at the same time to promote people’s rights over water, land and forests. A rally and public meeting was organised by ‘Antodaya Chetna Mandal’, Jan Sahajay’ and ‘Jan Vikas Sanstha’ at Kotagadh. Senior social worker Shri Basant Rautrai said that Kandhmal district has been declared a sensitive district. Tutia and Kandho tribes are the original settlers of this land while 70 percent of the land is under forest cover and 3 large land

areas of the district are considered reserved. However more than 100 villages have also been displaced for the protection of wildlife. 56,137 claims were filed under forest rights act in the district and of these 51,928 have been given rights over 85,599 acres of land. Shri Imendra Patmajhi of Khediaguda asked a very pertinent question when he said that the country has been independent for only 65 years but the dalits and other non-tribal forest dependent communities are being asked to furnish proof of 75 years of residence and cultivation isn’t this a violation of their constitutional rights? He further added that it is impossible for any such family to furnish three generations of proof and therefore their claims have not been accepted. Philip Manjhi of village Badiguda said that though the act has a provision of up to 10 acres of land in reality in ninety nine percent of cases the land being given is far less than what is cultivated by the people filing claims. And on top of this the claims for common property lands are not being entertained at all. He said that in Kandhmal district ‘operation Vasundhara’ was not being implemented properly.

Salunga Pradhan of village Mandelma said that 20 tribal A prayer meeting was organised in the ashram campus on the occasion of nation’s father Mahatma Gandhi’s martyr day.families had applied under this scheme but have received no response from the administration. Senior social worker Parmanand Bodse said that the Jansatyagrah movement is an opportunity for bringing the voices of the poor to the fore. Therefore all social movements should unite and come forward at this time. District coordinator of Ekta Parishad Smt Bibinka Pradhan said that in 50 village self help groups of women are collecting the Jansatyagrah Fund so that they would be able to carry on the movement for people’s rights with their own resources. At the end of the meeting all the villagers in a united voice said that they would join in the decisive Jansatyagrah movement beginning 2 October 2012.

31 January 2012, Kandhmal

On this day the Jansatyagrah Samvad Yatra halted at village Katadganda of Udaigiri block where the people said that 70 tribal families lived in the village and of these 31 families had filed claims for la nd under forest rights act and subsequently 27 families have received rights to 40 acres of land. The organization that works in the village focuses on self help groups and many other issues such as right to resources for livelihood, food security, health and education. The workers of this organization said that the people had not received any benefits from such government programs as ‘Mo Jami More Dih’ and ‘Vasundhra’. The villagers announced that they would reach Gwalior on 2 October 2012 to join the Jansatyagrah movement. Thereafter the Samvad Yatra proceeded onwards to Baanpur.

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