People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 37

September 11, 2011


AARM Protests Against Proposed

Amendments to Mines & Minerals Act



THE Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) observed September 6 as the tribal demands day in tribal areas in many states, focussing on the glaring indifference and neglect of urgent issues facing the tribals. Demonstrations and dharnas were organised in several states. On this occasion, a delegation comprising office bearers and members of the AARM including Bajuban Riyan, Pulin Baskey and Brinda Karat met the   union minister for tribal affairs, Kishore Chandra Deo.


The delegation strongly protested against the proposed amendments to the mines and minerals act which would provide a gateway to mining companies and corporates to enter mineral-rich Fifth Schedule areas in the name of giving equivalent of royalties for tribal development. The delegation termed this an insult to adivasis and a mockery of their rights granted to them under the constitution.  The minister replied that he was against entry of private sector companies in the Fifth Schedule areas. The delegation gave him a memorandum with several demands which included implementation of forest rights act. They gave details of violations of the act and rules in different states including his home state of Andhra Pradesh and of how the forest department in different states were usurping powers illegally to deprive adivasis of their rights in forest land. He agreed with the delegation that the current status of implementation of the act whereby over 50 per cent of the claims had been rejected was unacceptable. The minister said that the FRA rules were being amended to help adivasis access their rights. He assured the delegation of a national consultation on problems regarding its implementation. The delegation pointed out the utterly unjust design of the BPL census which would deprive most adivasis of being recognised as BPL as it gave only one deprivation point as STs while ignoring the special occupations of adivasis such as collection of the minor forest produce. The minister assured that he will take up the matter with Jairam Ramesh whose ministry is responsible for the flawed design. He asked the delegation to provide him a separate note on this.The delegation pointed out that in the absence of central intervention to ensure a floor price for MFP, adivasis were being fleeced by unscrupulous traders. They pointed out that even valuable herbal plants collected by adivasis got them very low rates whereas the traders made huge profits. The minister accepted the suggestion of the delegation to set up a monitoring committee for tribal sub-plan allotments and expenditures.


The following is the text of the memorandum


Implementation of FRA

As the chairman of the joint select committee of parliament on forest rights act, you more than anyone, have an understanding of those interests and lobbies who tried to sabotage the making of the act. We request you to ensure that the 75 year proof clause for OTFD is removed and the act amended with the cut-off of 1980 as recommended by the JSC. Unfortunately even after the enactment, large numbers of tribal claimants are being denied their rights on frivolous grounds. You are no doubt aware that shockingly over 50 per cent of the claims have been rejected.  Our ground level surveys show that in many states there has been direct and indirect unwarranted intervention and interference of the forest department, usurping powers that are not given to it legally. We have given details of such violations to the ministry in the past, the latest case being that of Maharashtra. We enclose a rejection form from Nasik district which gives an idea of the kind of violations taking place. In Andhra Pradesh and some other states, in the name of community rights, land is being handed over to the forest management committees which make a mockery of tribal rights. An illegal condition is being put that tribals having any other plot of land are not eligible for land cultivated inside the forest. In some states, less than the land being cultivated is being given. In other areas including designated as wild life or sanctuaries, the FRA clauses are being violated and rights are not being settled but on the basis of monetary compensation, tribals are being forcibly removed. We request you to ensure that the act is properly implemented by a thorough review. We also request you to hold a national consultation with tribal organisations like ours who are working on the ground so that we may give you more details.


Land Acquisition &Mining Laws

Displacement of tribals by the mining and land mafias is one of the most major concerns. The mining laws are proposed to be amended ostensibly to give a share in the proceeds accruing from mining in tribal areas for development of tribal areas. We apprehend that this so-called share is nothing but a gateway to facilitate entry of mining companies. In any case the proposal of the GOM for an equivalent in royalty is an insult to tribals as the royalties are meagre. At the same time in the name of enhanced compensation, tribal land in Fifth Schedule areas is being taken over. Tribal land owned near developing towns like Ranchi and Bhubaneswar is being taken out of the scheduled area thus depriving tribals of their land rights. We request you as tribal affairs minister to intervene to prevent displacement of tribals.


BLP Census

We request you to represent tribal interests and demand that tribals be included in the automatic inclusion category in the BPL census designed by the rural development ministry. The census design does great injustice to tribal communities, giving tribals only one deprivation point. On the other hand in occupation based criteria, tribal occupations such as collection of minor forest produce have been ignored in the deprivation scale. In 2003 the Supreme Court had directed that STs and SCs should be included in the Antodaya category. However tribal entitlements have been ignored and tribals discriminated against. We request you to raise this issue with the concerned ministry and in the cabinet so that the injustice may be redressed.


Anomalies in ST lists

You are aware of the gross injustice to many STs because of so-called spelling mistakes in the ST list which has deprived genuine claimants of ST status in many states of their rights as tribals. At the same time even though STs are recognised as such in one state, in the neighbouring state or sometimes within a state in the neighbouring district, an ST is not recognised as being one. The latest example is that the arbitrary removal of Madhesia from the ST list in Sarguja district while retaining them as ST in Jeshpur district of the same state of Chattisgarh. We request you to set up a time-bound commission to hear the complaints from various states and to consider all genuine complaints for redressal.



The Tribal Sub-Plan concept is being violated by the central government. There is a consistent shortfall in budgetary allocations which are far below the stipulated 8.2 per cent (according to the previous census). We request you to set up a monitoring committee for implementation of TSP at the centre and the states.


Procurement price for MFP

In most states, tribals are exploited by commission agents as far as prices of MFP are concerned because of the lack of government centres for procurement. In many states lucrative trade in herbal plants are left to the private agents who loot the tribals. In this sphere, we would request you to ensure a minimum floor for MFP for the states on similar lines as other MSP is fixed. This will protect the tribals from exploitation of unscrupulous traders.



Even though implementation of MGREGA is under the rural development ministry, we would request you to monitor the implementation of the act in tribal areas. Our surveys have shown that in the name of inaccessibility and lack of post offices in tribal areas there are very long delays in payment of wages in tribal areas. Also in many tribal areas where there is hilly or rocky land, the SORs are unfair to tribals particularly tribal women.