People’s Forest Rights Rally Demands Community Rights over Natural Resources and effective implementation of FRA
Organised by National Forum for Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) & National Forest Rights Campaign (NFRC)
PRESS RELEASE: 15th December 2011 Jantar mantar, New Delhi
Far too young to understand the importance of this day, on a rather cold and breezy winter morning of December, little Urmila, a bright eyed 6 year old from the deep forests of Tamil Nadu, walked beside her mother on the streets of the capital city of her country. Urmila and her mother came to Delhi along with thousands of other Adivasis, Dalits and forest dwellers from 18 different states of the country. At a time when the Parliament is in session, the 5000 odd mobilization of forest people, with 80 percent women, who gathered at Delhi, have travelled through trains, buses and on foot to ask one question to the government “Why even after 5 long years of the Forest Rights Act 2006, the government has lacked to effectively implement this historic legislation???”
To raise this simple question, the traditional working people of the forest communities, to whom belongs the Jal, Jangal, Jameen, began their march from Mandi House to the Parliament Street chanting slogans to claim what is rightfully theirs and to demand the effective implementation of FRA. The long march to Parliament, which effectively converted Central Delhi to a sea of red and green had slogans like ‘Jo Jameen Sarkari Hei, Who Jameen Hamari Hei’, and Jungle Jameen Jamare Aaapka, Nahi kisi ke baap ka’. The rally concluded in a public meeting on the Parliament Street. The meeting was addressed by many community leaders, activists and concerned eminent citizens.
Mr. Munnilal of the NFFPFW, addressing the rally and meeting stated that the forest people are not in Delhi to beg for their rights from any government or disturb the lives of urban fellow citizens. He asserted that the people are forced to come to the national capital only since the central government, the state governments and the administration are not interested in giving the communities what belongs to them legitimately. Guman Singh of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan accused the government of playing double standards, on the one hand legislating the forest rights act while on the other not implementing the same. Ashok Choudhary, national convener of NFFPFW stated that the governments are no more interested in implementing the legislation and are caught in the politics of the wildlife lobby and forest department. The well known truth is that this legislation can lead to the toppling of the supremacy of the ruling elites and bureaucrats in Indian forests. In the last five years, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs [MoTA], has taken only an apathetic view regarding in the implementation of this important legislation, he added. Speaking at the rally, Dr. K Krishnan of the National Adivasi Alliance Tamil Nadu stated that the adivasis and forest people should no more expect the vested interest governments to implement this historic legislation. Roma added that the communities should take what is legitimately ours.
Speaking on the occasion, Subhash Ghayali of Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee dared the central and state governments, their corporate lobbies to try to take any more land from Adivasis or Dalits in Jharkhand for so called ‘development projects’. Gautam Bandyopadhyay of Nadi Ghatti Morcha, Chattisgarh added that anyone closely observing the implementation of this important legislation, can clearly see the the political, administrative and structural hindrances in the implementation of FRA. Other speakers at the rally included: Soni (Karnataka), Yasmin (AP), Renuka Ekka (Chhattisgarh), Anil Mahaptra (Odisha), Roy David (Karnataka), Anuradha Talwar (Paschim Bangal Khet Mazdoor Samity), Ram Chandra Rana (Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch), Rajkumar (Madhya Pradesh), etc.
Solidarity messages in the rally were given by: Jst. Rajendra Sachar (for Chief Justice of Delhi High Court), Jarjum Ete (Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Commission), T Peter of National Fishworkers’ Forum, Ashim Roy of New Trade Union Initiative, Sunita Rani (National Domestic Workers Union), Anita Kapoor of Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union, Tapa nose (South Asia Forum for Human Rights), Anil Choudhary (PEACE, Delhi), and other well wishers of the forest people’s movement.
Many political parties extended their support reiterating the need for government to undertake serious measures towards effective implementation of the FRA 2006. Present and former Members of Parliament including Com. Abani Roy, Com. D Raja, Shri. Ali Anvar etc were on their way to participate in the rally, as this release was being prepared.
The leaders announced that as a specific follow-up programme from the communities, a national conference of traditional livelihood and natural resources based communities is being organized at Mavalankar Hall on the 16th December 2011. The aim is to bring together the diverse groups dependent on natural resources to build a National Federation of Natural Resource Based Traditional Communities and Organizations, at the National Level. The umbrella will specifically target the vacuum between the social movement space and the negotiating space of trade unions.
Background to the rally: Those who marched today are only the delegates, who represent the hopes and aspirations of their people spread across the country. Behind this rally was a mass mobilization which began in September 2011 and has seen the involvement of the following organizations/traditional community movements:
Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch, Dakshin Banga Matsya Jeebi Forum, Grameen Mazdoor Union, Himalaya Forest Villagers’ Union, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Kaimur Mukti Morcha, Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Union, Kisan Mukti Sangram Samiti, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Mahila Vanadhikar Action Committee, Nadi Ghati Morcha, National Adivasi Alliance, National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements, National Federation of Handloom Weavers’ Organisations, National Fishworkers’ Forum, National Forest Rights Campaign, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Sunderban Vanadhikar Sangram Samiti, Tharu Adivasi Mahila Kisan Manch, Van Panchayat Sangharsh Samiti, Vangram Evum Bhoo Adhikar Morcha, Vangujjar Kalyan Samiti
The fraternal solidarity groups/movements/ trade unions include:
Adivasi Solidarity Council, BIRSA-MMC, Delhi Solidarity Group, Intercultural Resources, Dynamic Action, INSAF, Matu Jan Sangathan, National Alliance of People’s Movements, India, National Domestic Workers’ Union, National Hawkers Federation, New Trade Union Initiative, Partners in Justice Concerns, Programme for Social Action, Vikalp Social Organisation and others.
Press Contacts: Roma: 9868217276, Vijayan 98681765471, Office: 011-26680883, 26687724
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com