TODAY -

'Track record of protection of tribal lands is not positive'
Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, March 31 2016: Local institutions must have legal status, said Jairam Ramesh, MP (RS) at a seminar on "Tribals and Constitutional Safeguards � The Question of Land-Rights in India" held today at JNU.

The day-long seminar was hosted by the Centre for Study of Social Systems.

Jairam Ramesh said that while there is difference between tribals under 5th and 6th schedules in India there is a common thread in the issue of land and land rights.

According to the MP, local institutions in tribal areas and forest dwellers must be given recognition.

An outspoken Jairam Ramesh, infamously called the "green activist" politician, who had attracted numerous oppositions and controversies during his tenure as Environment Minister, spoke extensively on the issue of land acquisition, large scale displacement particularly in tribal areas of Central India, such as Jharkhand, Odisha , Chhattisgarh.

He categorically stated that these are areas with huge natural resources.

"These are also Maoist areas," said the MP.

According to Jairam Ramesh, the track record on protection of tribal land rights in India is not positive.

"The safeguards are only on paper," he said adding, "land rights in India are routinely violated".

Failure to enforce land rights is one core reason for the unrest, such as in Central India, where there are huge reserves of natural resources," the MP stated.

Ramesh emphasized upon the Forest Rights Act 2006 , which he said is an inclusive legal entity that has both individual rights and community rights.

Moreover, Ramesh also emphasised on the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 which he said has an important mandatory provision on "consent " and "consultation" of local bodies such as the Gram Sabhas.

He underlined the need and laid strong emphasis for awareness on these Acts so as to empower the local population and also give strength to the Act.

The MP told the gathering to further look deeper into the details of these important Acts, and more importantly the 5th and 6th schedules of the Indian Constitution to further come to a more viable solution in a State such as Manipur.

"History, culture, legacy should also be taken into account while attempting to address issue of tribal land rights so as to give confidence to the people and to come to some forms of understanding to address the discontentment and disenchantment of tribal people," the MP said.

With focus on the case of Manipur tribals, the day long seminar discussed � federalism and the question of autonomy in North East India, Tribal movement for Constitutional safeguard; Laws and tribal's land-rights in India.

The seminar was attended by scholars and students from Delhi and various student and civil society leaders from Manipur.

H Mangchinkhup, convener of the JAC against 'anti-tribal' Bills, Churachandpur ADC Chairman Langkhanpau Guite, academicians from various universities in India were part of the panel discussion.

According to the organizers, the seminar is a call to deliberate on the plight of the tribal groups who were left out from Constitutional safeguards like the 5th or 6th schedules provided to the tribals in India.

The seminar echoed that the issue of the 6th schedule provisions for Manipur (Hill Areas) came to the fore again in the aftermath of three contentious Bills passed in the Manipur Assembly on August 31, 2015 which accentuated the urgency of safeguarding and protecting the Constitutional rights of the tribals of Manipur.

It was deliberated that there is an urgent need to resolve the question of land, rights and autonomy demands, and need to re-evaluate the functionality of the Constitutional safeguards in protecting the interests of tribals.


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