In a letter addressed to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has raised the issue of forest department officials denying transit rights to tribals in Kalahandi district and not allowing them to sell the bamboo harvest.
"Kindly issue necessary instructions to the concerned authorities to allow unfettered rights of transit for sale of bamboo by Gram Panchayat to local buyers which is a right given to them under the Forest Rights Act (FRA)," Deo wrote in the letter.
The June 18 letter also explains that tribal villagers of Jamguda in Kalahandi district are heavily dependent on Forest and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) for their subsistence and as a source of cash income.
"The villagers have direct dependence on bamboo for variety of uses.
The villagers while collecting bamboos have to face a lot of harassment by forest officials," Deo said.
Complaining about the "apathetic attitude" of forest department officials, the Tribal Affairs Minister said, "Due to apathetic attitude and functioning of forest department, community participation in the entire process (of conserving forest) was restricted."
He has also given details of the bamboo bushes in the areas which have witnessed large scale flowering recently.
"The villagers have identified 170 bamboo bushes for harvesting and the approximate market value of these bamboos is more than Rs one lakh... Local buyers have shown interest to purchase bamboo from Gram Sabha at market price which comes to Rs 30 per pole," Deo said.
He has also mentioned the role of FRA in this context which ensures that tribals should not be deprived of their basic right of utilising forest products and making a livelihood out of it.