All Grama Sabha assert rights on bamboo and kendu

Despite legally given rights on bamboo and kendu under Forest Rights Act, communities encounter constant roadblocks in enjoying these rights.

As the harvesting season for bamboo and kendu leaf approaches in Odisha, tension is building between the forest-dependent communities and the forest department.

In Kalahandi district, around 100 Grama Sabhas are planning to assert their rights over bamboo and kendu leaf despite legal curtails.

“In Kalahandi Jangal Manch meeting on February 28, we decided to assert rights over bamboo and kendu by harvesting and selling them ourselves because it is our land and we have the right over these resources. We have told the forest department and we will carry out the harvesting activity towards the end of April and starting of May,” says Kunjabihari Chandan, president of Kalahandi Gram Sabha Samuh.

Despite legally given rights on Minor Forest Produce (MFP) like bamboo and kendu under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA), communities have encountered constant roadblocks in enjoying these rights.

“While FRA gives rights over MFPs which include bamboo and kendu, in Odisha both these commodities are nationalised, thereby curtailing the rights of the people on them,” says Sudhansu Sekar Deo, a Kalahandi-based forest rights activist.

The disjunction between the central law–FRA—and how things are unfolding for the people is also evident in the policies of the state government.

Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) request, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha has told communities that they only have the right to transport MFPs on head, bullock cart or bicycle.

Experts say that this is based on the Community Forest Rights title deeds given before the FRA amendment 2012. The FRA Amendment Rule, 2012 says that “disposal of minor forest produce” shall include right to sell as well as individual or collective processing, storage, value addition, transportation within and outside forest area through appropriate means of transport for use of such produce or sale by gatherers or their cooperatives or associations or federations for livelihood.

“The FRA rules of 2007 are of no relevance as Amendment Rule 2012 supersedes the earlier one. In amendment rules, it is clear that appropriate means of transportation can be used to dispose MFPs,” Chittaranjan Pani, Odisha-based researcher on forest rights and livelihoods says.

The RTI also says that while the Gram Sabhas have the right to issue Transit Permit (TP), the permits have to be made using the format designed by the Forest Department.

“There is no need to accept the template design by Forest Department. The design and content of transit permit should be with the Gram Sabha. The content and format must be in line with the FRA provisions. The TP should also have scope to accommodate more Gram Sabha effort for entrepreneurial activities for disposal of MFPs and to reach a niche market through collective efforts of Gram Sabhas,” says Pani.

The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Kalahandi, in a letter dated January 12, asked the Lamer Gram Sabha to follow the bamboo cutting rules as laid down in the micro plan and also submit monthly progress reports to the department. The letter clearly specifies that if these conditions are not met the “Gram Sabha is liable for cancellation of this authorisation” over collecting the bamboo.

In December 2017, the Forest Division Office, North Kalahandi had sent similar directions to the people of Jamguda village. They were told to undergo training on bamboo management by the department, without which no decision will be taken on the TP book.

April 18th will be the Certificate Day for Sambalpur University

April 18 will be Sambalpur University’s certificate distribution day when the varsity will hand over around 75,000 certificates to the degree and diploma holders of various colleges affiliated to it.

Graduates of Sambalpur university have not received their degrees and diplomas certificates since 2013 despite convocations being held every year to issue certificates.

The news of the huge backlog came to limelight after the joining of Deepak Behera as vice-chancellor in January. It has been alleged that former vice-chancellors Bishnu Charan Barik and Chitta Ranjan Tripathy did not take interest in distributing certificates.

Minor bureaucratic reshuffle in Odisha after Bijepur by-poll

Odisha government on Thursday effected a minor bureaucratic reshuffle in the State administration, a day after result of Bijepur by-poll was declared.

According to an official notification issued by the General Administration Department, Yamini Sarangi, who was appointed as Bargarh Collector just two weeks ahead of the election, was send back to her previous place of posting as the district collector of Jagatsinghpur.

Senior OAS officer Indramani Tripathy, who presently holds the office of the Additional Secretary of School & Mass Education Department, has been posted as Collector of Baragarh, while Khagendra Kumar Padhi, who was the former Bargarh Collector, has been appointed as the Additional Secretary of School & Mass Education Department in the State Government, the notification added.

Maoist attack on a construction camp in Lanjigarh

Maoist attack on a construction camp in Lanjigarh area under Narla Police Station in Kalahandi district. As per sources a group of maoist vandalising the construction camp and also torched many vehicles.

Last month a civil contractor Tunu Dash was killed by Maoist in Kalahandi district.

According to reports, the incident took place in the wee hours while Kadamguda-Bhurtigarh Road construction work was underway and labourers were resting in a polythene camp set up beside Lanjigarh Road.

A group of at least 15-20 heavily armed Maoists raided the camp and threatened the workers at gunpoint. They later torched several tipper machines and other vehicles parked at the camp.

The red rebels shouted slogans against the road construction project which was being carried out under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and attacked a water tank located near the site.

Narla Police reached the spot and took stock of the situation this morning.

 

 

Holi arrives early for BJD in Bijepur

Holi celebration began early for BJD in the district after the landslide victory of party candidate Ritarani Sahu in Bijepur by-poll on Wednesday. BJD supporters went on a celebration-mode smearing colored powder, locally called ‘Phagu’, on each other besides distributing sweets among them. They also danced to the tune of ‘dulduli’, a traditional music of western Odisha amid fireworks.

Similar celebration broke out in Barpali NAC and block, Bijepur and Gaisilet blocks, Padampur and other areas of the district. BJD candidate Sahu along with Rajya Sabha Member Prasanna Acharya, Handlooms and Textiles Minister Snehangini Chhuria, Bargarh MP Prabhas Singh and MLA Debesh Acharya congregated in front of Anchal College at Padampur, where counting of votes was held, to celebrate the victory with BJD workers.

Thanking the voters and BJD workers, Sahu and Acharya said this win of BJD was against ‘goonda raj’ and false campaign. The by-poll result is the answer of people against bullet through ballot, Acharya said. The win was also a victory of ‘Vikash’ (development) and the result will determine the course and future of Odisha politics, he said.

An elated Sahu said she won the by-election due to the clean image of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and popularity of her late husband Subal Sahu. Thanking the voters of Bijepur Assembly segment for their support, Sahu said development work will continue in the area.On the other hand, while BJD celebrated the victory in different parts of the district, party workers of Chichinda village were grief-stricken.

On February 24, Dileswar Sahu of Chichinda died at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack after being attacked during pre-poll violence.Dileswar was with Subrat Singh, the brother of Labour Minister Susant Singh, when miscreants attacked them at Banabira within Sohela police limits.