Himachal Pradesh tribals demand forest rights

Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh), Feb 18 : Tribals and other forest dwellers in Himachal Pradesh protested against non-implementation of forest rights in Kinnaur recently.

The protestors alleged that the government of Himachal Pradesh was not implementing the Central law Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act that gave rights to tribals cultivating forestland for decades.

"The government is not serious about implementing the forest tribal act. The way it is scaring the tribal people that a legal action would be taken against them. We want to tell the authorities that it is implementation of law that we are seeking. We want to educate the tribals about their rights," said Tikender Panwar, President, Himachal Kisan Sabha.

The protestors said that the government indifference in notifying the law is what is creating problems for tribals.

"The law that was passed by the Central Government is not being implemented properly by the State Government. It is not educating people," said Shersingh Negi, a tribal.

The protestors also demanded that the government should withdraw forest-eviction cases filed against the tribals.

The Central law was passed in 2006 recognising, once and for all, that tribal people are integral to the revival, survival and sustenance of the forest eco-system. It ensures livelihood and food security of the tribal people by making them the effective owners of the minor forest products besides cultivating rights over forestland.

Each state has to notify the Central law to make it effective in its territory.