Mysuru, Mar 17: Tribal community in Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency will face disenchantment after successive governments at the centre and in Karnataka have ignored their demands.
Nearly 50,000 tribal families in the Mysuru-Kodagu segment and the number of tribal voters is reckoned to be around 1.25 lakh who will consolidate themselves in the run-up to the elections to be held on the first of the two phase LS elections in the State on April 18.
Tribal issues related to Forest Rights Act and rehabilitation will come to haunt the BJP and the Congress/Janata Dal (Secular) candidates during their campaigning in parts of Hunsur and Periyapatana in Mysuru district and in Kodagu which is part of the LS seat.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was enacted 13 years ago to correct the historical injustice meted out to the tribal and forest dwelling people by recognising their rights over forests apart from the community rights over common property resources.
A case in point is the demand for the implementation of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) 1996, which provides for tribal self-rule in areas where their numbers are high, Mr Sreekanth said. PESA has been enacted in States like Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Odisha.
If PESA is enacted, tribal people will feel empowered and their culture and way of life can be protected, according to activists of Vikasa Vahini.
Likewise, the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, though on paper, have not been implemented in spirit, Mr Sreekanth said.
However, the anger against the governments and the elected representatives for their failure to implement it as a result of which their applications for forest rights have been rejected. This resulted in a grave situation with the Supreme Court ordering the eviction of tribal’s whose applications for forests rights had been turned down.
“Though the apex court itself has stayed its earlier order and all State governments directed to file a review petition, the local MPs and MLAs have a lot to answer for’’, said tribal rights activist of DEED S Sreekanth
“The Act was passed by the UPA in 2006 and the Congress was in power in Karnataka for five years from 2013 to 2018 and it failed to implement the provisions of the Act sincerely’’, said M B Prabhu, tribal activist who is based in Veeranahosahalli, also in Hunsur taluk.
“Tribals will hold him accountable and seek an explanation in case he emerges as the Congress candidate from the Mysuru Parliamentary constituency.’ he said
There is brewing discontent among the tribals that most of the welfare programmes launched either by the Centre or the State was not reaching them. “There is scope for creating employment under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana by extending horticultural activity to the tribal hamlets but none had been taken up.’
The tribals are aware that both the BJP and the Congress/JDS(S) will woo them. Hence the native advises are planning to leverage their collective strength to ensure that their voice is heard at least this time.
A meeting of the leaders and elders of the tribal hamlets is planned in due course to decide their next course of action, according to Mr Prabhu. (UNI)