A parliamentary panel has asked the environment ministry to "seriously consider" vesting Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers, who were forced to relocate due to development interventions, with tenurial and other incidental rights.
The Committee on Petitions, while flaying the "total apathy on the part of the government regarding the non- availability of basic amenities", also recommended that the ministry work out some special financial package for Jharkhand and Uttarakhand and other such states to provide facilities like schools, dispensaries, solar power, among other things, to people living in villages on the periphery of forests.
"The committee has further noted with concern the long- standing insecurity of tenurial and access rights of forest- dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who were forced to relocate their dwellings due to state development interventions, especially amongst the people living in forest areas/reserve forests (commonly known 'Goth', 'Khatte' etc) for the last 30 to 50 years or even more.
"To address their concerns and security for all times to come, it is the considered opinion of the Committee that the ministry should seriously consider vesting them with tenurial and other incidental rights as well, even if it requires any further amendment to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and rules made thereunder, which the Committee feels shall be purely in consonance with spirit of the said Act," the committee headed by BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, said in its ninth report, which was tabled in Lok Sabha Sabha today.
It said it would like to be apprised of the specific steps taken to address this "major" issue that relates to a large section of people spread across the states of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, among others.
"The committee is disturbed to note the total apathy on the part of the government regarding the non-availability of basic amenities like schools, dispensaries, solar power, among others, to the people living in forest/reserve forests...
"Since the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change supplements the efforts of the state governments by providing financial assistance to them under the intensification of forest management scheme, the Committee recommended that some special financial package needs to be worked out..." it said.