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Denied forest rights, people take to streets in Himachal's Kinnaur

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IANS Shimla
Denied forest rights, over 1,000 people of remote Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday held a protest in Rekong Peo against the government for not implementing the Forest Rights Act.
The protest was held under the banner of the Zila Van Adhikar Samiti and the Him Lok Jagriti Manch, which have been struggling for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act for five years.
The district administration on December 17 rejected 47 individual forest rights claims of Lippa village in the district.
"The decision of the district-level committee is not just about one village. This is about bureaucratic ignorance on the provisions of the Forest Rights Act as well as officers' attitude towards common people," said Jiyalal Negi of the Zila Van Adhikar Samiti.
For quite some time, Kinnaur district, dominated mainly by tribals, is echoed with slogans 'van adhikar kanoon Lagoo Karo (implement the Forest Rights Act)' and 'hamare gaon mein hamara raj (self-rule in our village)'.
Daulat Ram, a non-official member of the district-level committee who participated in the protest, said: "The Forest Rights Act is getting violated at each procedural step, and the voice of the non-official members are ignored."
In the Lippa village case too, all three non-official members had refused to accept the decision of the official members.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 aims to redress the historical injustice that forest-dwellers have experienced, particularly the denial of their rights to forest land and resources.
"The law lays down all procedures for claim-filing and verification, but the administration is unwilling to understand the provisions of the Act and is using the law as per its own convenience," said Akshay Jasrotia, who has been advocating implementation of the Act.
Prakash Bhandari of Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective said: "When they have implemented section 3(2) of the Act for diversion of forest land for development activities, why not for section 3(1) which recognises individual and community rights?"
--IANS
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First Published: Dec 29 2018 | 6:24 PM IST

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