Chat Archives
Chat on "Tribal Bill" dated June 18, 2006

    Susan Welcome to IWC Chat on "Tribal Bill"

     Susan Welcome Dr.Easa

    Susan Dr.Easa is Director Conservation at Wildlife Trust of India

    Easa Hello and this is going to be an interesting topic for discussion and glad that Rithwick will join us

    Susan Great!

    Susan Rithwick is a lawyer specialising in wildlife and a very diificult person to get hold of for online chat. Thanks for roping him in.

    Easa This was a topic of heated discussion for sometime and then everyone forgot.

    Easa But the Joint Parliamentary Committee has come up with more suggestions, which I think has made it more anticonservation one

    Susan Why do you think it is anticonservation?

     Easa The bill was supposed to help recognise the forest Rights of scheduled tribes have now become recognition of rights of both the tribes and other traditional forest dwellers

    Easa The Forest dwellers definitely include the non tribals and could be encroachers also

     Easa In effect, this is recognising the rights of all the encroachers also, not just tribes

    Ritwick Hello all ! A correction....the bill is no longer 'tribal bill' extends to all communities as long as they are in occupation of forest land

    Susan Welcome Ritwick!

    Easa Ritwick please explain the pertinent features of the bill in the present form

    Ritwick First of all the bill changes the cut off date for the reguralisation of encroachment on forest land from 25-10-1980 to 13-12-2005

    Susan Is the bill applicable to only national parks and sanctuaries?

    Easa I feel bad for obeying the law of the country which said encroachment is against the law.

    Ritwick The Bill is applicable to all forest land including national parks and Sancturies

    Ritwick The next important feature is that the gram sabha will be the ultimate authority is deciding as to who is to be treated as encroacher or not and the forest department has no role on the same

    Susan There is no distiction between forest land and National park as far as the bill is concerned?

    Easa This section on NP and WLS will definitely kill the sanctity of the NPs and WLSs

    Ritwick The Core areas of Protected areas are to be done way with and communities will be allowed to stay in core areas

    Ritwick Susan, there is no distinction between forest land and National Parks

     Susan This really sounds like a death knell for wildlife in India

    Easa Unfortunately, the bill proponents seem to have not looked into the past experience even with the tribal lands

    Ritwick Non timber forest produce will include rocks, stones, minerals and the right to transport the same

    Ritwick Dr Easa, i am sure most know the impact but want to still press for the rights since it concerns votes

    Easa Kerala has given land to the tribals and there was also an act banning transactions of the tribal land, ("Tribal land alienation act"?)

    Easa The tribal lands were purchsed by the nontribals and the tribals became landless and there was regularisation of all these transactions.

    Ritwick The most disturbing part is the fact that it is not a 'tribal' bill at all

     Ritwick The bill is among the most serious challange to indian conservation

    Susan If the Bill is passed, what will be the impact on wildlife?

    Easa I do agree. It is a bill in the name of tribals. The landless tribals again agitated for land. There must be the powerful lobby again waiting to purchase these lands.

    Ritwick Large scale encroachments, mining and non forestry activities and even hunting since there will be greater human presence in wldlife areas

    Easa the impact will be more fragmentation and disturbance and what not with the rights on NTFP(NWFP) including rocks and stones

    Easa Ritwick, does it mean quarrying will be permitted and Wildlife act will be redundant?

    Easa The gramasabhas deciding all the claims will also be disastrous. Where is the judiciary?

    Susan In short, the GOI thinks that 'exploiting' our forests and the resources in it is the way to development? I hope thinking people in the Government will see through this.

    Ritwick will join in few minutes

    Easa I think the objections from MoEF were over ruled.

    Susan IWC members have probably not seen the connection between the bill and wildlife. Explains the poor show in the chat room.

    Easa All the decisions in gramasabhas will be political. One cannot expect much apoilitical, legally sound decisions by Gramasabhas as they are political people.

    Easa the gramasabhas must have been given the power thinking that they know the details of all forest dwellers directly. But the effect is definitely going to be adverse

    Easa Ritwick, there was also a clause of 2.5 ha per family earlier, which is also deleted from the latest

    Ritwick The gram sabha deciding is akin to one becoming a judge of his own cause

    Susan The Gramsabhas surely are more in touch with forest dwellers than the MoeF

    Ritwick the 2.5 ha clause has been deleted... it is now unlmited

    Susan The growing distance between grassroot realities and forest policies must be the cause for such drastic actions through bills.

    Ritwick The MoEF does not need to be touch with the forest dwellers...the forest department at the Range Level is the operational level for interaction

     Easa What about the responsibilities of these forest dwellers?

    Ritwick I sincerey believe that the motivating factor for the bill is not the welfare of forest dwellers but politcians and land grabbers

    Susan But are these arms of MOEF really in touch with the forest everywhere? may be this Bill is a wake up call to all

    Ritwick Dr Easa.. the new bill does not talk of responsibilities at all

    Easa Is there any clause on transaction of the allotted land. can they sell it to any one?

    Ritwick I have to check the same

    Easa This will be disastrous if permitted. i do not think you can prevent sale of a land allotted to you. even the tribal lands were grabbed by others

    Susan Ritwick , if what you believe is true, something should be done to prevent it

    Easa Is there any restriction on the utilisation of this land. i do not find anything. Again a point of concern. in a country where illegal activities are regularised after a while, you can get these things also done later.

    Susan Does not the CEC have a role to play in finalising the Bill?

    Ritwick Susan.. this is the most difficult...i am not sure which is the best strategy to counter the bill

    Ritwick The CEC has no role in the bill

    Susan Who has drafted the bill?is it not vetted by all experts?

    Easa CEC is not a law making body. parliament enact and others should implement. I do not think the discussions with the concerned and the concerns of the concerned raised before the committee were taken seriously

     Easa I think it was drafted by tribal welfare department?

    Ritwick Mostly the Human Rights Group....Campaign for survival and dignity

     Susan I believe the new Wildlife Board is meeting tomorrow. May be the Bill will also figure in their discussions?

    Easa What could be done? More discussions and probably convince the political higherups, more letters to the press, statewide campaigns, legal actions,...,

    Easa I doubt whether the human rights groups will also agree to the present form where 2005 is the cut off date and where encroachers are given rights and where exploitation ( not utilisation) of natural resources is encouraged.

     Ritwick legal action should be the last option

    Easa Board Meetings can help? Doubtful. Only poiliticians with concerns on nature can help. May be we fail to convince them.

    Ritwick Dr Easa unfortunately most rights groups are supportng it

    Susan I think Dr.Easa has a very valid point.

    Easa We had such leaders earlier. Silent valley was saved by political decisions. Probably those with concerns now are helpless because of obvious reasons.

    Ritwick I dont think there is a politician who will be able to oppose it

    Easa I think there should be pressure groups to raise the issues before the concerned in groups.

    Susan Where politicians failed, lawyers who are aware have come to the rescue

    Ritwick Lawyers have a limited role...difficult to oppose in a sea of opposition

    Easa It will be good if we spread the imapact of these decisions to more number of people so that they could probably discuss, get convinced and then convince others.

     Ritwick I agree with Dr Easa on the need to spread awareness

    Susan The need is there to go to the genesis of the bill, examine all view points and then take action. Something which can be done only by experts at this stage

    Ritwick Time is short.the bill will become an act very soon..

    Easa Even if there is a role, how many will be there? Very few. Lawyers can definitely help. they cannot help a group of people who are not ready to help themselves. lawyers cannot save a community who are bent upon commiting suicide.

    Susan The time to spread awareness, is probably over. Mobilising the common man for such issues will not probably help. It becomes another "For the Bill-against the bill" war

    Easa I think the most important part to be played by IWC is to collect all the relevant articles and put it in the web for members. Let them also react. Let us not wait for the star and the saviour.

    Ritwick We have to do strategic mobiisation ....

    Susan Another issue where environmentalists are going to be presented with a fait accompli is the interlinking of rivers. Time to create awareness about that is NOW. But we as a people are just not used to proactive action.

    Easa I think there were various artciles for and against recently. It would be good to compile these.

    Susan I am willing to start a blog on "Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests"

    Ritwick know which aspect of the bill can be faulty and in contradiction with other politicians

    Susan The common man has no patience to go through articles. But if two or three valid points are taken out and written in weblog form on a daily basis, there is bound to be a readership and also comments

    Easa Interlinking rivers, mixing up of various blood groups. what a funny idea!!! Water is not a nonliving one which is used for drinking, bathing, cooking, washing etc. it is a live one with lots of organisms. We forget it.

    Easa I do hope that IWC members will take the pain of reading more on these and do whatever is possible at their end. Thank you Ritwick and it was nice of you to join and contribute. Thank you susan. I am in a town near forest in Kerala and have to go through the forest dwellers. Bye

     Susan Dr.Easa and Ritwick can you contribute to this blog? Write just one sentence or two on a daily basis. I will do everything I can to get all the members of IWC to read it and also notify all other groups where I am a member about the weblog.

    Susan I am myself writing a blog on interlinking of rivers, in the hope that some people will read it

    Easa Let us see. promises have to be kept. I shall see and probably chase Ritwick also.

    Easa Thank you and Bye

    Susan Thank you- both of you. I will let you know about the addition of Blog topic soon. Hope both of you will write.

    Ritwick thank you and bye was nice interactiing with you all

    Susan Ritwick and Easa thanks for coming in see you more often!

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