Power companies exploiting tribal forest lands – ST Commission

Shimla: Pulling up the state government for tardy implementation of Forests Rights Act, 2008 in tribal areas, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes asked for reducing pendency and pointed out that tribal regions of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti were agitated about hydropower companies exploiting them.

Dr Rameshwar Oraon interacting with media

Speaking to the media after holding a meeting with top officials of the state, Rameshwar Oraon, chairman of the three member visiting commission was also alarmed about tribal people becoming landless where companies had acquired scarce arable and forest lands for hydropower projects in the high altitude tribal districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.

He also demanded adequate compensation to tribals for land and forests acquired by power companies as there was a great discrepancy in rates applied by private and government projects.
The government needs to allot house site and agricultural land to all those tribals who have been rendered landless, he said.

About implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2008 for tribals he said that against a claim by 5356 persons for land under act, it had been allowed for only 238 persons, while claims by 1712 people had been rejected and a cases of 3406 was still pending decision.

While there could be a dispute over individual claims to forest lands, said Oraon but it was surprising that of the 279 community claims under forest rights that of 51 had been rejected, 108 cases were approved and 120 cases were still to be decided.

The commission has asked having a re-look at community claims to forest rights and to decided about the pending cases as early as possible, he said.

About reservations in government jobs, the commission said that the state did not have quantifiable data on reservation based promotions. “We received an employee delegation who have complained that the state was not giving due promotions based on reservation quota basis as mandated by the 85th constitutional amendment,” said the chairman.

There was a shortage of doctors, teachers and other government employees in the tribal areas of the state. The education status among tribal women was less the men and needed policy intervention to serve the marginalized sections better.

A high incidence of TB found among tribal populations could be easily contained, said Oraon.

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