(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 05, 2010
Large Adivasi Rallies Assert Right to Forestland
ON August 25, two large rallies --- at
Jawhar in Thane district and Nashik in Nashik district --- condemned
Congress-NCP state government of
The rally at Jawhar was held in front of the
office of additional collector of Thane district and it mobilised over
from 10 tehsils of Thane district. The rally at Nashik was held in
front of the
office of divisional commissioner and it mobilised over 15,000 adivasis
the five north
It is now over three and a half years since
the passage of the Forest Rights Act in parliament in December 2006, as
result of the constant pressure of the Left parties and Left MPs on the
central government. Huge rallies of adivasis were held under the
the CPI(M) in several tribal districts of
For over a year after the enactment of the FRA, the state government did virtually nothing for its implementation. A CPI(M) state delegation met the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, deplored this state of affairs and submitted a memorandum demanding immediate action. It was only in the middle of 2008 that the initial steps began for FRA implementation.
The CPI(M), AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA and DYFI in
the tribal districts of
But the implementation of the Forest Rights Act in Maharashtra over the last three and a half years has been scandalous, to say the least. In fact, it appears to be aimed at ensuring that the tribals are, by hook or by crook, actually denied the right to the forestland that they have been cultivating for generations. There have been inordinate delays at every governmental level, from the tehsil upwards, in the simple matter of even acceptance of FRA applications. Government officials have then been harassing the Adivasis for furnishing additional proofs. GPS machines for measuring the land are extremely few and each machine can measure only around 20 plots per day. At this rate, it will take years to process the lakhs of FRA applications that have been submitted.
However, the unkindest cut of all came recently when the government authorities began a campaign of rejecting thousands of FRA applications. For instance, from the information given by the authorities to the delegations of the August 25 rallies, only 15,000 appplications out of over 1,00,000 in Thane district have so far been cleared. Similarly, only 17,351 of the 50,336 applications in Nashik district have been cleared. Just 600 of the 2,200 applications in the Akole tehsil of Ahmednagar district have been cleared. Hardly any land pattas have so far been actually distributed. Even as regards the applications that have been cleared, very few have been sanctioned the quantum of land that they actually cultivate. Most have been sanctioned less than one tenth of what they had claimed. One major reason for all this is the undue interference of the forest department which is illegally exercising its veto to ensure that thousands of FRA applications are rejected. This is a glaring contradiction, since the forest department has been kept out of the process by the FRA itself.
These were the burning issues raised by the August 25 rallies at Jawhar and Nashik. At both places, seeing the strength and militancy of the demonstrations, government officials had to assure the leadership that concrete corrective steps would be taken to ensure the effective implementation of the FRA. Assurances were also given as regards the PDS, NREGA and other issues afflicting tribals.
The Jawhar rally was addressed by CPI(M) state secretary and Central Committee member Dr Ashok Dhawale, state secretariat members Lahanu Kom, Rajaram Ozare (MLA) and Mariam Dhawale, state committee members L B Dhangar, Barkya Mangat, Edward Vartha and Ratan Budhar, district secretariat members Shivram Girandhala, Ladak Kharpade, Baban Kakra and Jayaram Janathe, district committee members Santi Malavkar, Sangeeta Ozare, Rasila Dhodi, Sunil Dhanva, Madhukar Dovala and Chandrakant Jadhav.
The Nashik rally was addressed by CPI(M) Central Committee member Kumar Shiralkar, state secretariat member J P Gavit, state committee members Kisan Gujar, Jaisingh Mali, Prakash Choudhary, Sitaram Thombre, Janardan Bhoye and Nathu Salve, district committee members Dr Ajit Nawale, L R Rao, Irfan Shaikh, Gunaji Gavit, Savliram Pawar, Laxman Gaikwad, Devidas Adole, Rama Mahale, Narsing Vasave, Bajya Valvi, Dwarkabai Bhil, Vijay Patil and Mangala Gosavi, as well as Dada Shinde, Sanjabai Khambait, Adv Dnyaneshwar Kakad, Tulshiram Katore and others.
Both the rallies warned that if immediate action was not taken by the government on the FRA, an unprecedented Jail Bharo stir would be launched all over Maharashtra in the days ahead.