The Telegraph
Thursday , May 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999

‘Forest right a far cry’

Social welfare, women and child development minister Vimla Pradhan on Wednesday conceded that laws meant for protection of tribal rights had not been implemented in Jharkhand, which directly caused women to migrate to big cities in search of livelihood.

Speaking at a seminar on Forest Right, Minor Forest Produce (MFP), Livelihood, Land, Nutrition, Health, Community Rights and Women, the minister said, “The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which was framed to prevent atrocities SCs and STs, has not been executed in our state. A state-level cell should therefore be formed to dispose of cases of atrocities against tribals.”

The two-day national seminar, being jointly organised by the National Commission for Women (NCW) with its Jharkhand chapter, attracted around 200 women from various states — mainly Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh — who have been fighting for their ownership over forestland.

Pradhan added, “Since tribal women spend ample time in forests collecting produce like sakhua and chironjee seeds, medicinal plants, kendu leaves and mahua fruits, which fetch good market prices, efforts should be made to secure their rights and restore forest cover.”

Vouching for legal ownership for tribals over forestland, she said, “Tribals should be given permanent land pattas (deeds) under the Forest Right Act, as they do not have legal right over the land in which they have lived for years.”

Echoing Pradhan, guest of honour and NCW member Charu Wali Khanna said tribals who are identified with jal, jangal, zameen (water, forest, land) were unable to fulfil their demands, as they did not have any claim over the resources.

Earlier, Pradhan launched the meet after minister of state for women and child development Krishna Tirath was unable to arrive due to other engagements. In a written message, Tirath urged everyone to “conserve forests, which tribals identify with as their source of livelihood”.

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