Multiple tribal groups staged protests outside the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram and submitted a memorandum to the Kerala Governor.

Our rights being sabotaged Tribal groups protest outside Raj Bhavan in Kerala
news Protest Sunday, September 08, 2019 - 14:44

Various tribal organisations in Kerala staged a protest on Saturday in front of the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram to press for several long-pending demands for the tribal community in the state.

Their demands include scrapping the move to allot Rs 52 crore from Scheduled Tribe Development fund for relocating tribals, setting up of a tribal rehabilitation mission for post-flood rehabilitation of tribals, revoking income-based reservation and withdrawing the amendment in The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, brought in by the union government.

Representatives of tribal organisations like the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, Kerala Dalit Mahasabha, Kerala Adivasi Forum and the Adivasi Aikyavedi, to name a few, took part in the protest. They submitted a memorandum with their demands to the newly-appointed Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.

“Tribals have been neglected for years and their crisis has aggravated post the floods. As many as 1,500 tribal families from Wayanad and Nilambur lost their houses in the floods. They should be properly rehabilitated and the PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, should be implemented,” Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha state coordinator Geethanandan said while speaking at the protest.

“The implementation of the Forest Rights Act is in a distorted state as the Conservator of the Forest Department of the state also holds the post of director Scheduled Tribes department. He has even taken steps to evict 800 tribal families from the forest in the name of voluntary relocation. For this, he intends to spend Rs 105 crore from the Rebuild Kerala fund, which is meant for the rehabilitation of flood-affected people,” Geethanandan said.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in his report in 2007 had said that relocation like this is illegal, still the director goes ahead with the move. He should be removed from the post,” Geethanandan said.

Five petitions were filed before the Governor with the demands.

“Tribal rights have been consistently sabotaged in the state. Even the rights of tribal students are neglected. This should be corrected. Instead of implementing the Forest Rights Act, what the Scheduled Tribe development director tries to do is to sabotage the rights of tribal people,” said CS Murali of Kerala Dalit Mahasabha.

Kerala Forest Minister K Raju had recently sought Rs 200 crore from the Centre for relocating tribal families from areas which are vulnerable to threat from wild animals. This has also been viewed sceptically by the tribals as tribals relocated in the past have never been properly rehabilitated.

Also read: The Kerala government’s contentious move to relocate tribals from forest land

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