[Reader-list] HC glare on Roy hubby house by RASHEED KIDWAI

anupam chakravartty c.anupam at gmail.com
Wed Nov 17 16:50:07 IST 2010


In recent local media reports and a half-page advertisement carried in a
national daily, the Madhya Pradesh government has claimed to be number one
in implementing the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Evidences from the field fly in
the face of this claim, suggesting that the State stands first in rejecting
claims made by forest-dwellers.

Jhabua, where 86 per cent of the population is tribal, is also the district
with the highest density of tribal population. As many as 1,645 individual
claims and one community claim were received from the district, and of
these, only 120 were approved by the district-level committee as on July 24
this year.

In Morjhariya and other hamlets of Mohankot village in Petlawad block, the
committee rejected 228 claims without consulting the sub-divisional level
committee. At Rasodhi in Rama block, all 380 claims were rejected. I
recommended that the claims of the Morjhariya tribals be approved, but the
SDM and CEO didn't listen, says Kesar Bai, the only female member of the
sub-divisional level committee.

Moreover, the rejection letters issued to the claimants cited no reason, a
serious violation of the rules and procedures of the Act. The locals say the
Revenue Department had acquired the land of the Bhil tribals of Morjhariya
for digging an irrigation pond, paying them a meagre compensation of
Rs.300-400 apiece.

With their land taken away, the tribals started working in forestland 25
years ago. According to the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006, all
individuals and communities cultivating forestland on or before December 12,
2005, could claim the rights for the land.

*Claimants threatened*

Barely a month after claims were filed, Forest and Revenue Department
officials, accompanied by 250 policemen, descended on the area and
threatened the claimants. They pushed us around, took away our beds and
destroyed our *taprees' (sheds), says Viru Singh, one of the claimants.

They said, tum log chale jao yahaan se, ye tumhaari zameen nahi hai, na
kabhi hogi (leave this land, it does not belong to you and it never will)',
he said.

Thereafter the Forest Department established in the area a vigilance chowki
with a guard. A case of encroachment on forestland and collective nuisance
was filed against the claimants. Those booked included women and children
and a disabled woman. In another case, 39 people were booked for destroying
grazing fields. Why did the department station the guard after we filed
claims and after this incident, asks Viru Singh. The protected forestland,
which the officials claim has been encroached upon by claimants, does not
have a single plantation, except rows of Jatropha. , the bio-diesel plant.
The government, however, maintains that everything is fine and vouches for
the speedy implementation of the Act. The Act is being implemented in good
spirit across the State, and Madhya Pradesh has been very fast in the
implementation of the Act, says Jaideep Govind, Commissioner, Tribal Welfare
Department.Asked why so many claims from a tribal-dominated district were
rejected, he said: According to our analysis, there were a lot of spurious
claims, and most of them could not provide the required documents for
certification. He refused to be quoted on any other issue related to the
implementation of the Act. The Morjhariya tribals, however, say they
submitted all necessary documents, including the copy of an appeal sent to
the Chief Minister in 1999, which proves that they were had been cultivating
the land from before 2005.Of the 10 districts mentioned in the
advertisement, only Shahdol and, to some extent, Rewa have a sizable tribal
population. There is also a mismatch between data provided by the government
and that laid out in the advertisement: in the Vidhan Sabha, the government
put the number of approved claims for, for instance, Indore, Bhopal and
Gwalior at 39,274, 44,951 and 42,078, but the advertisement put these at
287, 1,010 and 163.

Keywords: Jhabua tribals<http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article9828.ece#>
, Forest dwellers
<http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article9828.ece#>, Madhya
Pradesh <http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article9828.ece#>

On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 4:48 PM, anupam chakravartty <c.anupam at gmail.com>wrote:

> http://www.forestrightsact.com/current-situation/75-chargesheet-on-governments-violations-of-forest-rights-act
> Chargesheet on Government's Violations of Forest Rights
> [image: PDF]<http://www.forestrightsact.com/current-situation/75-chargesheet-on-governments-violations-of-forest-rights-act?format=pdf>
>  [image: Print]<http://www.forestrightsact.com/current-situation/75-chargesheet-on-governments-violations-of-forest-rights-act?tmpl=component&print=1&page=>
>  [image: E-mail]<http://www.forestrightsact.com/component/mailto/?tmpl=component&link=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5mb3Jlc3RyaWdodHNhY3QuY29tL2N1cnJlbnQtc2l0dWF0aW9uLzc1LWNoYXJnZXNoZWV0LW9uLWdvdmVybm1lbnRzLXZpb2xhdGlvbnMtb2YtZm9yZXN0LXJpZ2h0cy1hY3Q%3D>
> *A Chargesheet*
> *This note focuses on the Forest Rights Act and was prepared as part of
> the protests that took place in November 2009.  It remains valid today. *
> Passed in December 2006, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest
> Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was hailed as a historic step
> towards recognising the rights of forest dwellers and correcting a gross
> injustice. Almost three years later, it is clear that the government has no
> intention of allowing it to be implemented.
> *Illegally Robbing People of Their Lands and Forests*
> One and a half years after the law came into force, the Environment
> Ministry finally issued orders this July that barred handing over people's
> lands and forest resources to corporates or projects without their consent.
> Yet no action has been initiated against the officials responsible for the
> illegal forest diversion of the preceding year and a half, and meanwhile
> State governments are continuing to threaten people with illegal eviction
> for large projects in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand,
> Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. The same story of illegal threats is being
> repeated in wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves.
> *What can the government do? :* Comply with the law and stop expropriating
> resources.
> *What has the government done? : *Both Centre and State are still
> violating the law.
> *Forest Department Illegally Blocking People's Rights to Their Homes,
> Lands *
> The law lays down a clear three stage process for recognition of people's
> rights. It also defines what constitutes admissible evidence. The Forest
> Department has a role at the district and sub-divisional levels, but only as
> one of the parties involved. But the Department has made every effort to
> give itself illegal veto powers to deny rights. In most States the
> Department is refusing to be present at the time of verification by the
> Forest Rights Committee, and then demanding that the claim be rejected at
> the screening stage as they did not attend. In several major States, only
> rights of those on Forest Department lists of "pre-1980 encroachers" are
> being recognised. In Rajasthan, the State government illegally insists that
> the signatures of the forest beat guard and other officials are required on
> every claim, resulting in harassment and extortion. The net result of this
> kind of interference is that the majority of eligible claimants are being
> rejected.
> *What can the government do? *: Issue clear orders against such
> interference and take disciplinary action against the officers involved.
> *What has the government done? *: The Central government has done nothing.
> No State government has taken action either, and many – Chhattisgarh,
> Rajasthan, West Bengal, etc. - have issued illegal orders favouring the
> Forest Department or giving them extra powers in the process.
> *Denying People's Control Over Their Forests*
> The Forest Rights Act not only provides for rights to individual
> landholdings – it also recognises that communities have the right and the
> power to protect and manage their forests, and to prevent land mafias,
> corrupt officials and government agencies from damaging or destroying them.
> But these rights and powers are not being recognised anywhere. No procedures
> have been provided for most of them, and no system is in place to ensure
> they are respected.
> *What can the government do? : *The Central government can issue clear
> Rules and procedures for the recognition of all rights in the law. The State
> governments are required by law to recognise and respect them.
> *What has the government done?* : The rights in sections 3(1)(b), 3(1)(c),
> 3(1)(d), 3(1)(e), 3(1)(i), 3(1)(m) and 4(8), pertaining to nistari rights,
> ownership of minor forest produce, grazing areas / water bodies, habitats,
> community forest resources, illegal evictions and displacement respectively,
> are ignored in the Rules, effectively rendering them meaningless. All State
> governments have hence been conveniently ignoring and often violating these
> rights as well.
> *Imposing Joint Forest Management Instead of Respecting People's Rights*
> The flip side of denying community forest rights is the promotion of
> dangerous sham “participatory” schemes, particularly Joint Forest
> Management. Indeed, huge amounts of money are being pumped into “plantation”
> programmes in forest areas, mostly to be run through these Joint Forest
> Management Committees. These Committees, though nominally “participatory”,
> are in fact controlled by the Forest Department, as the forest guard is the
> member-secretary. The result is that these Committees are controlled by
> contractors and others who are close to the Forest Department, and in
> practice function as proxy troops, engaging in plantations, evictions etc.
> in place of the Department itself.
> Most such plantations are done on people's lands, to which they have
> unrecorded rights, or in common lands; after which these lands are illegally
> converted into reserved forests without following due process of law.
> Plantations deprive large numbers of people of their lands every year, even
> after they were barred from doing so by the Forest Rights Act. But, despite
> this, the government is pumping hundreds of crores into these programmes
> every year, both from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund and from
> international bilateral loans to State governments. If the government is
> truly interested in 'participatory' forestry, why is it not respecting the
> law and implementing these programmes in accordance with people's will as
> expressed through their community institutions? Why is it violating the law
> and democracy in favour of illegal “afforestation”?
> *What can the government do? : *Shut down the Joint Forest Management
> programme and ensure that all schemes in forest areas are undertaken with
> the consent of and under the control of the communities.
> *What has the government done? : *Both Central and State governments have
> Intensified their offensive against community rights even in the face of
> public and Parliamentary criticism. Several States – West Bengal, Kerala,
> Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa etc. - have accelerated JFM
> Committee formation after the passage of the Forest Rights Act.
> *Officials Illegally Taking Over Process*
> The Forest Rights Act requires that all rights be recognised through a
> transparent, public process, where the gram sabha or village assembly is
> central.* *Instead of following that process, government officers are
> imposing their own diktats. Gram sabhas are being deliberately called at the
> panchayat level or even larger units in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and
> elsewhere– where they are too large for adivasis and forest dwellers to have
> their voices heard. This is in direct violation of the Act, especially in
> Schedule V areas. Even where gram sabhas have functioned and recommended
> claims, in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and other States, the
> area over which rights are being recognised is being illegally reduced.
> People cultivating an acre of land file claims for it, have their claims
> duly verified, and find that the actual title is given for a tenth of the
> area. Arbitrary criteria are imposed, such as making those who own revenue
> land ineligible for rights, as has happened in Tamil Nadu. Claimants are not
> being intimated of rejection and not being allowed to appeal.
> *What can the government do? : *The Central government should clarify that
> this kind of interference is illegal and a criminal offence, and State
> governments should take action against their officers.
> *What has the government done? *: The Central government has made space
> for further interference by issuing ambiguous orders. State governments are
> encouraging interference by issuing illegal orders on gram sabhas and
> eligibility criteria.
> *Terminating the Process Before People Can File Claims for Rights
> Recognition*
> The Act does not provide any timeline for implementation. Under the Rules,
> only the gram sabha has the power to fix when the three month filing period
> will begin, and can also extend that period.. Yet State governments are
> arbitrarily imposing cutoff dates and threatening people that claims will
> not be accepted after that. Now the Central government wants to rush the
> major States into completing implementation in December 2009, when it has
> barely begun and is riddled with illegalities.
> *What can the government do? : *Ensure that officials and State
> governments comply with gram sabha decisions on the timeline. Make sure all
> eligible claimants know how and when to file for rights and are able to file
> appeals.
> *What has the government done? *: Imposed illegal deadline after illegal
> deadline.
> On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 4:34 PM, Samvit <samvitr at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Wow!! This seems to be her real agenda. She shows the world that she
>> is the messiah of the "oppressed" and then she usurps their land. I
>> can't believe that she has a retreat in Panchmarhi. I am sure if
>> someone investigates her you would find it a bigger scam than
>> the 2G issue.
>> -SR
>> On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 4:23 PM, Aditya Raj Kaul
>> <kauladityaraj at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > HC glare on Roy hubby house
>> > *
>> > *
>> >
>> > *Link* -
>> http://www.telegraphindia.com/1101117/jsp/nation/story_13187337.jsp
>> >
>> > *Bhopal, Nov. 16: *Writer-activist Arundhati Roy’s house in hill resort
>> > Panchmarhi is under threat following the rejection of an appeal in
>> Madhya
>> > Pradesh High Court.
>> >
>> > The court has asked Arundhati’s husband, filmmaker Pradeep Kishan, to
>> appear
>> > before a sub-divisional magistrate.
>> >
>> > The order comes four years after the Madhya Pradesh government had
>> served a
>> > notice on Kishan and others for encroaching on tribal land.
>> >
>> > The bungalow owned by Kishan is in Bariyam village of Panchmarhi, 250km
>> > south-east of Bhopal and part of the Panchmarhi special area development
>> > authority created to protect wildlife in the region.
>> >
>> > In Bhopal, the buzz is that the Shivraj Singh Chauhan-led BJP regime is
>> in a
>> > mood to “punish” Roy following her support for “azaadi” in the Kashmir
>> > Valley.
>> >
>> > Chauhan had recently gone on record suggesting jail as an “ideal place”
>> for
>> > Roy for her “seditious pronouncements”.
>> >
>> > Roy and Kishan got embroiled in the land controversy in 2003 when the
>> local
>> > administration claimed their elevated bungalow overlooking twin hillocks
>> and
>> > vast rolling greens was in notified forest land. Then SDM Niyaz Ahmad of
>> > Pipariya had acted upon a complaint filed by Vijay Singh, a tribal, that
>> > Roy’s husband and three others, including Aradhana Seth, sister of
>> writer
>> > Vikram Seth, had allegedly encroached on tribal land.
>> >
>> > In his affidavit, Vijay had accused them of constructing a cemented road
>> to
>> > their bungalows without bothering to obtain permission or pay adequate
>> > compensation.
>> >
>> > Senior government officials who did not wish to be named said Kishan had
>> > bought the 4,346sqft plot in 1994. The government subsequently filed a
>> suit
>> > arguing that the Forest Act of 1972 banned the sale of land in notified
>> > forest areas. Section 18 of the law bars buying and selling of notified
>> > forest land.
>> >
>> > Roy has also been a controversial figure in Madhya Pradesh.
>> >
>> > A few years ago, she campaigned for the rights of Bhopal gas survivors
>> and
>> > villagers displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam. Soon after winning the
>> Booker
>> > in 1997, she joined Medha Patkar’s fight, saying the Narmada dam was a
>> > “fault line” between the rich and the poor.
>> >
>> > Today, she is having to contend with sarcastic comments from state BJP
>> > leaders who want her reaction to her husband “trampling upon the rights
>> of
>> > hundreds and thousands of animal species”.
>> >
>> > A state BJP spokesperson said: “Perhaps it’s time for Arundhati to look
>> into
>> > her own backyard. Instead of extending support to Kashmiri separatists
>> and
>> > Naxalites, she should consider the plight of helpless animals who have
>> been
>> > driven out of forest land simply because they do not have an Arundhati
>> to
>> > speak for them.”
>> >
>> > If the SDM’s verdict goes against them, Roy, Kishan and the others can
>> > appeal to Manoj Srivastva, commissioner, Bhopal and Narmadapuram
>> > (Hoshangabad) division.
>> >
>> > Reprieve may come at another level, too, if the Supreme Court accepts a
>> > court-appointed empowered panel’s finding that Bariyam doesn’t fall in
>> the
>> > category of a forest village despite being in the heart of a forest.
>> > _________________________________________
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