Jammu and Kashmir’s indigenous communities get their rights back under the Forest Rights Act

admin November 6, 2021
Updated 2021/11/06 at 3:36 PM

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today handed over “individual and community rights certificates” to the beneficiaries of the Gujjar-Bakerwal and Gaddi-Sippi communities under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. This is a historic step that has the potential to transform the lives of members of deprived tribal communities in J&K.

The Lt Governor, speaking on the occasion, described it as a historic day for J&K, saying that the Forest Rights Act of 2006 had finally given tribal communities due rights after a 14-year wait, keeping in mind the basic spirit of social equality and harmony “as guided by the constitution of our country and the Parliament.”

According to an official handout, the Lt Governor stated that the J&K administration has been pursuing the ideals of establishing an equitable and just social order with vigour under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and has been working sincerely to empower the tribal community, which has been neglected and discriminated against for decades.

“By empowering indigenous communities under the Forest Rights Act, we are restoring their rights to a better life while meeting their basic needs for water, food, shelter, and livelihood. It will undoubtedly alter their circumstances. With access to resources for their growth, they will become self-sufficient,” he continued.

“We are also trying to link J&K’s tribal people and their new generation with the mainstream of development,” stated the Lt Governor, in addition to executing the tribal community’s constitutional rights.

On the occasion, the Lt Governor also highlighted former Prime Minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “mammoth efforts” for the welfare of India’s tribal and disadvantaged people. Vajpayee Ji, he remarked, was in the vanguard of this earnest endeavor, in addition to launching campaigns calling for specific recruitment drives to further strengthen the tribal people.

Immediately after the Prime Minister transferred these rights to the Tribal population of Jammu and Kashmir, the UT government undertook a comprehensive process, according to the Lt Governor.

He said that thorough conversations were held with all stakeholders, with a particular focus on getting a firsthand evaluation of the tribal population’s position on the ground in J&K. The Lt Governor praised the Department of Forests and Tribal Affairs for reaching out to stakeholders and ensuring a smooth transfer of rights to all legitimate beneficiaries.

The Lt Governor announced that work on Tribal Sub Centers, Roads, Power Supply, Anganwadi Centers, and other projects will begin soon and that in areas where community rights are being granted, Rs 10 crore will be provided immediately for infrastructure development and more resources will be made available to them so that the tribal community can be truly empowered.

In response to the Gujjar-Bakerwal & Gaddi-Sippi Community delegation, the Lt Governor stated that the development of J&K’s tribal communities is one of the government’s top objectives, for which the administration has taken a number of unprecedented measures. “This year, the Cluster Tribal Model Village has received the largest ever allocation of Rs 73 crore,” he said.

He spoke about the government’s decision to build transit accommodations at eight locations at a cost of Rs 28 crore, as well as the construction of Tribal Bhavans in Jammu, Srinagar, and Rajouri, a Rs 15 crore Tribal Health Plan, the establishment of health sub-centres for the static population, mobile medical care units for the migratory population, and the establishment of a cluster of 15 tribal SHGs to empower the youth.

The Lt Governor also announced the establishment of 1500 tiny sheep farms to ensure tribal youth’s long-term livelihood, as well as the selection of 500 tribal kids for specialised skill development programmes such as Commercial Pilots, Management, Robotics, and others. He stated that ‘Mission Young,’ in collaboration with the Tribal Department, has begun the process of establishing 16 Milk Villages at a cost of Rs 16 crore to connect at least 2000 youth to the dairy sector, as well as providing training, branding, marketing, and transportation to the youth.

The Lt Governor stated that in addition to the Rs 30 crore in scholarships given to tribal students, 42000 more youngsters will receive scholarships this year. “Provision of 1521 Seasonal Schools for Migratory Children, 2 Residential Schools on the Migratory Route, 8,000 e-learning tablets for 7th and 8th-grade children, and a rise in the remuneration of seasonal instructors from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000,” he said.

According to the Lt Governor, indigenous groups would be given access to small forest produce. The UT government will build infrastructure for collecting, value addition, packaging, and distribution in collaboration with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED).

The Lt Governor also mentioned that the seven new hostels for tribal kids that were under construction are approaching completion, and that the administration has already requested to the Union government to establish 79 more hostels. He said that the finances for the Eklavya Model Residential School in Gurez and Rajouri had been increased to Rs 32 crore, and that a proposal to establish five additional such model schools in the UT had already been submitted.

“We have also decided to construct Tribal Tourist Villages, and in the first phase, 15 villages would be chosen, with construction beginning with a budget of Rs 3 crore. Apart from that, if any kid from the community want to start a tourist business, the government would give them with training as well as easy financial support of up to Rs 10 lakh,” the Lt Governor concluded. In his remarks, Farooq Khan, Lt Governor’s Advisor, stated that the government is dedicated to safeguarding and preserving the rights of tribal groups. He emphasised the importance of taking comprehensive efforts to help the indigenous population flourish.


Source: The Hindu

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