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Reds want Forest Act scrapped

Press Trust of India  |  Gadchiroli 

The Gadchiroli divisional committee of CPI (Maoists) has dismissed the model that received nation-wide attention last year when then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh handed over community rights over forest land to tribals at Mendha Lekha village in this east Maharashtra district.

"It (the Forest Rights Act) is the ploy of the government to loot the forest through the forest mafia ...

Ramesh's initiative was merely a farce," the handbills distributed recently by the committee in Mendha Lekha village said.

"The Forest Acts was enacted during the British rule to deprive tribals from their basic rights over the forest. All these acts should be scrapped immediately," the pamphlets stated.

Alleging that the 'Mendha Lekha movement' has deviated from its goal, the Maoists claimed that it was because of their "struggle" that the government was forced to offer the rate of Rs 35 per bamboo to tribals from the previous rate of 3 paise which was prevailing three decades back.

Many villagers have received the leaflets but refused to speak to the media fearing reprisal from ultras.

The Reds have also accused activist Mohan Hirabai, who spearheaded the experiment, and tribal leader Dewaji Tofa of being mere "tools" in the hands of the "capitalist government".

First Published: Wed, August 29 2012. 10:34 IST