New Delhi, Feb 21: In the wake of Supreme Court order to evict adivasis and traditional forest dwellers from forest land whose claims have not been accepted, Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring an ordinance to protect the vulnerable sections of the society.
Referring to the Ordinance, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said in a letter to the Prime Minister that, ‘If this is not done it will be virtual declaration of war against adivasis”.
“Your Government has adopted ordinances on other issues. It will be highly unjust to adivasis and traditional forest dwellers if an ordinance is not passed immediately to protect them from eviction”.
The Supreme Court ruling came after a group of people filed petitions questioning the validity of the Forest Rights Act and pleading to evict all tribals whose claims over traditional forestland were rejected under the law.
“According to the latest figures available (December 2018) of the 42.19 lakh claims made only 18.89 lakh claims have been accepted. This means that 23.30 lakh adivasis and traditional forest dwellers are vulnerable to eviction according to the Supreme Court orders”, Ms Karat said.
She also said that “it is highly regrettable that the counsel arguing for the Central Government was absent from the Court on the crucial date. This betrayal of the rights of adivasis was the culmination of the connivance of the Ministry concerned with the petitioners”.
The CPI(M) leader alleged that while the nodal agency for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act is the Tribal Affairs Ministry, Modi government instead of giving the responsibility of the case to them, it has left it deliberately to the Forest Ministry and added that “which has been totally against the Act from the beginning”.
“Community Forest Rights are not being recognised and land occupied by adivasis is being handed over to big companies for various projects and also for mining under the programme of ‘ease of business’”, she said.
The CPI(M) leader demanded to set up an impartial body to go through the claims of adivasis which have been rejected and not leave it to the Ministries. (UNI)