Maharashtra, housing rights, tribals

The situation of implementation of housing rights is very bad in the country, claims are being filed only to some extent and in fact only two titles are being issued.

In January 2016, ten years after the adoption of the Forest Bill of Rights (FRA) in Parliament, the 60-gram sabhas at Khutgaon in Gadchiroli became the first forest dweller in Maharashtra to claim habitat claims. These people are part of the Madia Gond community and are known as the particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG). For almost three years since the submission of the claim, they have not obtained legal title since the approval of the authorized body.

PVTG is a sub-category of scheduled tribes (ST) characterized by pre-agricultural skill levels, population stagnation or decline, extremely low literacy rates and economic subsistence levels. There are 75 listed PVTGs in India; there are three in Maharashtra: Katkaria or Kathodi in the Thana and Raigad areas, Kolam in the Yavatmal area and Madia Gond in the Gadchiroli area. In ST, PVTG has different societies and cultures originating from its territory and forests. As we all know, most PVTGs consider themselves to be part of a larger village in the same community, with large shared biocultural areas. These territories or habitats provide livelihoods and resources as well as social and spiritual significance.

Recognizing the habitat rights of PVTG is one of the more important provisions of FRA, but it is still ignored nationwide. Article 3(1)(e) of the FRA recognizes “rights including habitat tenure in habitats and habitats”, and 2(h) defines habitat as “habitual habitats in reserved and protected forests and Other areas of this type of habitat”.

These are very different from the more recognized individual rights (for homesteads and agriculture), community rights (the Quesaba rights to forest resources) and community forest resource rights (for the use, management and protection of their forest resources). . The most important difference is the way in which habitat rights transcend the administrative units of the family and the village – and recognizes the rights granted by biocultural units and territories. They are one of the least understood and poorly enforced categories of rights recognized by the Frankfurt authorities, as well as the rights of nomadic and pastoral communities.

Madia Gond’s case

Preparing a claim at Khutgaon is a long and intensive process that lasts for nearly six months. The group within Madia Gond has a traditional Iraq or region, and Khutgaon ilaka is one of them, controlled by 60 villages. In April 2015, the testimony of the village elders was used to delineate Iraq. Iraq’s borders were verified at numerous meetings in each village and at joint meetings at the Iraqi level. After all 60 grams of sabhas passed the approval resolution, the application was finalized.

Their application statement is as follows:

  • Cultural rights of residence and community
  • Cultural and religious rights to their traditional territory
  • The right to use, protect, manage and protect natural and sacred spaces
  • Space rights for community planning and festivals
  • The right to implement traditional agriculture
  • The right to protect, manage and protect community resources in traditional areas

After a field trip to the Ministry of Rural Development and Forestry officials, the division was approved by the district-level committee in December 2016. The District Council (DLC) – the final approval body – approved the application in May 2017. But after more than a year, the title has not yet been released.

It is impossible to separate Gadchiroli’s other two hot issues (mining and Maoist) from Madia Gond’s residency issue (rejection).

The traditional area of Madia Gond, including the Cotangal Iljaca region, is rich in dense forests with the most natural resources in the mining industry. From the year 2007, the lease of the Central Advisory Committee was received without the advice of a consultant or consultant, Lloyd Metell, who sought to bridle the Saraydeg Lake. Thereafter, 15,000 hectares of dense forests were added to 20,000 hectares of land, destroying 16,000 hectares of land, destroying 16,000 hectares.

The forests acquired (or in the process of acquisition) are essential for Madia Gond for agriculture, food, water, economics and ecological security, and protect their identity from a cultural and spiritual perspective. Therefore, these communities oppose their destruction.

“The relevant Quesaba has been requesting the cancellation of existing and proposed leases through all possible democratic and constitutional methods,” Neema Pathak Broome from Kalpavriksh, an environmental and social organization, told the British Telegraph. “This includes sending resolutions to the [Ministry of the Environment], MoTA, the National Regular Caste and Scheduled Tribal Council and the Governor of Maharashtra, holding public meetings and sending litigation statements to legislators and political actors, and organizing protest gatherings. All of this has been ignored.”

This part of Gadchiroli is also notorious for the existence of the Maoists. The campaign also opposes mining, leading to constant hints of greater forest rights and anti-mining struggles. The agency’s interests are consistent with the companies involved, and it is reasonable to use this to justify further mining and increase militarization in the region, while intimidating different voices through arrests and interrogations.

Bloom said: “In this case, it is easy to see how the community’s habitat rights give them huge control over these huge and critical forest groups, and this right is still not recognized by the state.”

Lessons from other parts of India

In other parts of the country, the implementation of habitat rights, if not worse, was only a small number of claims, and in fact only two titles were issued. One of them is controversial.

In 2014, the Thrissur area of Kerala (and other community rights) recognized the habitat rights of the Kadar community. Upon review, it was found that it was not the title of the entire territory, but the community forest rights title of each small compartment in Kosa Saba as a habitat right. The local administration quickly tried to correct and reissue the title; the matter has not yet been decided.

In order to claim habitat rights nationwide, some ongoing efforts have highlighted the challenges in this process. Gram Swaraj and Vasundhara Odisha are two organizations working in Manurbhanga region, which support the Mandya community claiming their housing rights. These claims are said to have been approved by the DLC. However, under the pressure of forest officials, the decision was reversed.

“Mankadias is a semi-nomadic community, claiming that the territory overlaps with the Similipal Tiger Reserve, including its core area,” said Tushar Dash, an independent researcher with Vasundhara Odisha until recently. “Although the Frankfurt organization is very clear that any type of forest land can recognize rights, it is now a notice issued by the National Tiger Protection Authority prohibiting FRA accreditation in the core area of the Tiger Reserve. The agency’s letters are illegal and under its jurisdiction Out of scope, but the delayed response of MoTA to the matter led to the suspension of DLC approval and the disruption of power gained from months of effort.

Another challenge, Dash pointed out, is that there is a huge overlap in areas where habitat rights and areas dedicated to plantations may be applicable, according to the 2016 Compensation for Forestation Act (CAF). CAF plantations are a priority for the government because they are related to huge funds. The forest sector controls the land, which also contributes to India’s international commitment to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In the Bilaspur area of Chhattisgarh, a habitat of approximately 3,500 hectares is occupied by 4 grams of Sabah in the Baiga community. “After promoting the consultation and mapping process, we filed a claim with the DLC in December 2017 – but since the committee has not met since then, they are waiting,” said Devjit Nandi, an activist at Navrachna, who helped promote This process. .

“One of the main problems is the extreme backwardness and geographical isolation of most PVTG communities, which makes it extremely testing any intensive task of promoting organizations to build awareness and mobilize them on habitat rights issues, and then to implement long-term and resource boundary divisions. Departments and state tribal departments need to play a bigger role in completing this process.”

Towards a better implementation

In addition to the lack of awareness and awareness, the practical challenges of delineating large areas of forest and providing evidence for their claims have prevented NGOs from playing a key role in implementing forest resource assessments. Because of the many complex factors involved, institutions that provide funding for NGOs have not identified this issue.

The 2012 FRA Amendment Rules instruct the DLC to ensure that “all PVTGs are consulted with their associated traditional institutions and that their requirements for habitat rights are raised prior to the relevant sabhs”, thereby giving habitat rights. In 2015, MoTA asked all state chief secretaries to “fully recognize the habitat rights of PVTG in their state”. This is not enough, and specific instructions need to be taken at the state and regional levels.

Recognizing that habitat rights can play a vital role in protecting livelihoods and PVTG cultures, as well as restoring traditional forest management practices not recognized in current governance systems. Millet cultivation and supplementation of diets containing forest foods are examples of achievable practices that have a major impact on the well-being of the community. The government needs to consider these factors and give up the mistrust of these communities.

Jaya Kashyap
Jaya is the prime pillar behind the Indian edition of The News Recorder. Jaya is an environment-loving person who always tends to protect and nurture her surroundings. She is handling the major desk behind this website for Environment section. Jaya is also the main Editor-in-chief on The News Recorder.


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