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02 November, 2009

Dharna against planned triple attack on forests and forest dwellers

Hundreds of Adivasis from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan will join a dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on November 3 and 4 to protest against the planned triple attack on the forests and the rights of forest dwellers, according to Campaign for Survival and Dignity.

A CSD release says:

• Rushing "Completion" of the Forest Rights Act: The Tribal Ministry is calling a meeting on November 4th, 5th and 6th to “complete implementation” of this law by December 31st – which will mean its death knell. Under the Forest Rights Act, adivasis and forest dwellers have rights to own the lands they are cultivating, use the forest resources they depend on, and protect and manage community forests and wildlife. But the forest bureaucracy has sabotaged the law, preventing recognition of land rights and ensuring that community forest rights are ignored.

• “Forestry” projects and climate change: Thousands of crores are being funnelled into forestry projects by the Central government and foreign donor agencies. In practice “forestry” means plantations, which are usually done without consulting the local communities. The result is that they are often done on people's lands, denying them their grazing areas, cultivated lands and community forests, even as they damage the environment by replacing natural ecosystems with monocultures. The government showcases these projects as a “success” and is seeking even more funding to use them to stop climate change. The proposed climate change bill, to be passed in December, will probably include such projects, giving them a legal mandate. If these projects go ahead, the livelihoods of millions and the ecology of India's forests will be threatened.

• A new paramilitary “offensive”: In the name of fighting the Maoists, the government is deploying large numbers of troops in forest and adivasi areas. We have already seen the result in Bastar, where paramilitary deployment helped the salwa judum militia destroy more than 644 villages and drive lakhs of people from their homes. If the government truly wants to reach out to adivasis and forest dwellers, why is it not respecting its own laws and people's self-governance and resource rights?

Our Demands

• Implement all provisions of the Forest Rights Act and the powers of the gram sabha under it

• Recognise the right and power of the people to protect their forest resources under the Forest Rights Act; terminate the sham scheme of “Joint Forest Management” and the “federations” created under it, which are a pretext for Forest Department manipulation

• All projects in forest areas – development, industrial, forestry, etc. - must be undertaken with the consent of and as per plans prepared by the community

• Halt police repression and respect democracy, peace and justice

For more information, see
Campaign for Survival and Dignity
Ph: 9810819301

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