People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVI

No. 13

March 25, 2012

 

Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch

Organises All India Sangharsh Sabha

 

ON March 21, in a packed Mavalankar Hall in New Delhi, over 1200 tribal delegates from 13 states adopted a resolution calling for sustained struggles to defend their land, livelihood and to fight discrimination. Organised by the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, the Sangharsh Sabha inaugurated by chairman Bajuban Riyan (MP) adopted a resolution moved by Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and seconded by Upen Kisku. 18 adivasi speakers including joint convenor, Babu Rao, described the rank discrimination and violation of constitutional provisions and spoke of the resistance to the onslaught on their lives. The convention adopted a call for struggle programme initiated by Duli Chand Meena. The valedictory address was given by Biman Basu, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) who called for unity to fight back the attack on tribalsí rights by neo-liberal policies which have greatly intensified historical injustices faced by tribals. A delegation met the tribal affairs minister and handed him the resolution. (Detailed report of the convention will be published next week)

 

RESOLUTION 

 

This Sangharsh Sabha

Expresses its strong protest, as citizens, against  the grossly discriminatory policies by the Indian State and central government against the most deprived and oppressed sections of the society, namely the approximately nine crore population of adivasis. These injustices have been intensified under neo-liberal policies.

 

Even the inadequate policy provision of at least 8.2 per cent of the Plan amount, proportionate to adivasi population, to be allocated for adivasis, has been consistently violated. In this budget 2012-13, the allocation is around 5 per cent, a shortfall of over 11,000 crores rupees adding to the shortfall since 2010 of 26,000 crores of rupees.

 

Whereas the denial of minimum standards of decent living exist for all poor people, for adivasis it is much more acute and they have no electricity, no water, no health facilities, no schools.

 

Whereas malnutrition among adivasis is highest in any social group, as many as 61 per cent adivasi families have no BPL cards and are at the mercy of the market hit by high prices of foodgrains and essential commodities.

 

Whereas the budget for general education has increased, the number of residential scholarships and schools so vital for adivasi students living in remote areas has been reduced. The scholarships are meagre. The state of the present hostels is dismal. In other words, the opportunities for adivasi students are curtailed in reality to just the primary level.

 

Whereas agrarian distress has forced adivasis to migrate looking for work, adivasi migrant workers have no rights, most migrant tribal workers in construction or mining are casual or contract workers or work as domestic workers with no labour protection laws. At the same time, there is a huge backlog in government jobs for STs at the central, state level and in PSUs, with no statutory provisions to ensure implementation of the constitutionally mandated reservation quotas for adivasis.

 

Whereas non-tribals may get recognition as STs through corrupt practices, the very process of scheduling and recognition as tribals is bureaucratic and arbitrary denying genuine tribals ST certificates. Many communities have been arbitrarily denied their recognition as tribals.

 

This convention demands:

Increase the TSP to at least 8.5 per cent; give all adivasis (except for those in regular government service) BPL cards; raise the number of residential scholarships and stipends for adivasi students, increase allocations for tribal student hostels and ensure establishment of residential ST schools; give adivasi workers labour rights protection; fill the backlog in adivasi jobs, make ST certification transparent, swift and simple.

 

Condemns forcible land acquisition and consequent displacement  

of lakhs of adivasi families across the country, including in Fifth Schedule areas. The constitutional guarantees for protection of adivasi land are being virtually scrapped in the implementation of neo-liberal policies of handing over the mineral wealth of the country to big corporates. Between January 2008 and August 2011 alone, 1,82,389 hectares of forest land was diverted by the ministry for projects in different states. In Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, governments are signing MOUs with corporates in the name of mining, power, irrigation etc without the consent of the affected gram sabhas.

 

In state after state, adivasis are fighting and resisting forcible land grab. While opposing the token provisions of compensation provided to the tribals in the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulations) bill 2011, this Sangharsh Sabha demands the legal recognition of the rights of adivasis over the mineral wealth in their areas. This will be in the spirit of the Samata judgement of the Supreme Court.

 

However in contrast, the draft Land Acquisition and Relief and Rehabilitation Act, 2011 which is before the standing committee of parliament gives legal sanction to grab land and mineral resources. The situation is made worse because large numbers of adivasis cannot prove ownership of their land as they have been for generations, denied titles.

 

This Sangharsh Sabha opposes the current draft of the LARR Bill. It demands that the government should redraft the bill to ensure protection of adivasi land and mineral resources in adivasi areas on the lines proposed by the amendments of many adivasi organisations including the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch.

 

Expresses its deep concern at the non- implementation of the Forest Rights Act

It is shocking that of the 32 lakh claims, almost 50 per cent have been rejected arbitrarily. At the same time about five lakh claims are pending for years. The Forest departments have been violating the law and directly intervening to sabotage the Act. Repeated appeals to the central government have not yielded any results. Clearly the government is not committed to implement the law. In contrast, the Left led government in Tripura stands first in its recognition of tribal rights over forest land through grant of land pattas jointly in the name of husband and wife.

 

At the same time the fatal flaw in the law requiring proof of residence of 75 years in the forest, has resulted in  mass denial of rights of other traditional forest dwellers, many of whom are scheduled castes and adivasis who have remained unscheduled due to government oversight.

 

This Sangharsh Sabha demands an amendment to the law to scrap the 75 year condition and to recognise 1980 as the cut-off date for other traditional non-tribal forest dwellers. It demands implementation of the FRA.

 

Tribal women are being harassed when they enter the forests for collection of minor forest produce in spite of the rights granted under the Forest Rights Act. At the same time, adivasis are being exploited by the very low prices being given for MFP.

 

 

 

This Sangharsh Sabha demands that a minimum support price policy for all minor forest produce should be implemented by the central and state governments for a wider range of produce guaranteeing adivasis a fair price.

 

Against Police repression

 

In some states, adivasis are caught between the terroristic activities of the Maoists on the one hand and police repression on the other. There have been cases of brutal torture against innocent adivasis by both sides. This convention strongly condemns the violence and calls for release of innocent tribals. 

 

This convention calls for nationwide struggles for protection of adivasi rights against the assault of the neo-liberal policies being followed. The struggles should aim to prevent forcible land grab and for rights in forests, change in policies and reversal of the historical injustice to adivasis.