Question of Traditional Land Rights

3 February 2012, Puri

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The first stoppage of the yatra was Satpada region of Puri, where public hearing was organised at Bhoishai. Nilam Bhoi, Mukhia(head) of Bhoisai shared that 60 families of fishermen community is living in this village for the last 50 years but they have not received land entitlement for their homes. He shared that the land belongs to the Mahiprakash Math, which is now indirectly registered/controlled by land mafia and landlords. Shri Ratnakar shared that 5 years ago every fishermen earned their livelihood from Chilka but from last 3 years, lake is being controlled/ grabbed by the Mafia who have set- up boundaries. Due to this, nobody from Bhoisoi is able to go to the Chilka Lake. This has created hunger death like situation in front of 60 families of the village who are left with no option but to migrate. He showed confidence that Jan Satyagraha will raise their issue before the state government Next stop of the yatra was a public hearing in Gola village, Puri district. This village is inhabited by 150 dalit fishermen families. Shri Aadinand, Behra of this village shared that in 1994, government had opened another sea route and has allowed non fishermen community to fish. Due to this, the traditional right of local fishermen community of the area diminished. These non fishers men mafia have captured the rights of the local fishermen’s. In 1997, 3 local fishermen’s were murdered which resulted in riots and locals were charged with false cases. In 2000, this mafia had cut the nets of traditional fishermen’s and damaged their crop.

Today, the main reason of fight in Chilka is the policies of Chilka Development Authority which has increased the rights of non fishermen over traditional rights of fishermen community. In addition, the authorities are overlooking the rights of fishermen community in the name of tourism development. In the name of Dolphin and bird sanctuary, authority has prohibited 200 square Km area. This has further reduced the traditional area for fisheries. They have raised the question as to why the development authority is not giving rights to traditional local fishermen. After that, a meeting was convened by Gopinath Yuvak Sangh which was attended by the participants and intellectuals from city along with fishermen. On the occasion, Shri Chandrashekhr Nayak, freedom fighter said that there is a lot of hope from non violent Jansatyagraha Yatra because violence is increasing in our society day by day. He hoped that as a result of this non violent struggle, a new land reform act will be passed by the government. Ms Geetanjali Panda, a known poetess said that the question of land should be seen linked to the culture and identity. Unfortunately, the rehabilitation policy for the tribal (after acquiring their land for mining and industrialization) neglects the cultural aspects of tribes. Ms. Pratibha Mishra, senior writer shared that if the administration is sensitive, a lot many problems can be solved at the local level. She hoped that the central government will accept the demands before 2 October 2012 and will not disappoint the non violent activists. Senior writer, Shayam Senapati assured the support from the writers to the Jan Satyagraha.

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