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MP govt asks panchayats to levy taxes for development funds

PESA Act ensures empowerment to panchayats and gives veto power to gram sabhas even on mega projects

Shashikant Trivedi  |  Bhopal 

Even after 18 years, tribal dominated has many issues to resolve with regard to implementation of PESA (and Extension of Schedule Area) Act 1996.

State government today urged bodies to levy tax if they need funds for development.

"If they levy tax, state will chip in funds to an extent to the equivalent amount of the tax," said a well-placed official in the state government.

State initiated a dialogue with office-bearers of bodies to ensure effective implementation of the Act.

However, a number of issues put officials in an awkward situation when asked about restricting incidences of illegal detention in case of even legal mining.

"Provisions of have exemptions from royalty in schedule areas for if they do mining for development work but local forest officials, police and mining officials unnecessary harass and detain us," said Shambhu a office bearer from Sidhi district.

The came into effect after 74th constitutional amendment that ensures empowerment to panchayats and gives to even on mega projects.

A large number of investments are coming up in scheduled areas in and in many cases Gram Sabha's role came under limelight.

The implementation of the Act is so far limited to arresting Sahookari (money lending) system, issuance of lease to the forest dwellers, and distribution of bonus to them against minor forest produce collection.

"Certain provisions of the Act ensures adequate compensation to the forest dwellers, like our government has disburse 60,000 pattas (lease of land) to the forest dwellers and 53,000 have been given residential units. We are further in process of ensuring their rights by empowering more," said Gopal Bhargava, and rural development minister.

PESA Act, in fact ensure ownership rights on minor forest produce to the forest dwellers but it needs to propagated among them. "Our government has disbursed an amount of Rs 244 crore as bonus on tendu leaves during last year, yet empowerment of is one of the proper way to implement the Act," said Gauri Shankar Shejwar, state forest minister.

First Published: Thu, September 04 2014. 19:08 IST