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Tribal Acts remain on papers in Agency

Tribal Acts remain on papers in Agency
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The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, though came to power in Andhra Pradesh almost two years ago, is yet to implement the Acts enshrined in the Constitution that would benefit the tribals in the Visakhapatnam Agency.

Visakhapatnam: The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, though came to power in Andhra Pradesh almost two years ago, is yet to implement the Acts enshrined in the Constitution that would benefit the tribals in the Visakhapatnam Agency.

The constitution of Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) as required in the Fifth Schedule which applies to the Visakhapatnam Agency area, PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 and the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act or briefly Forest Rights Act (FRA) have not been enforced adequately.

Under these Acts, the importance of Gram Sabhas in decision making needs to be restored. Gram Sabhas should have a decisive say in matters relevant to mining activity and other projects, as well as in avoiding oversight on education and public health facilities.

Former IAS officer and activist E A S Sarma said under the FRA, there had been errors in the survey of the forest lands in the possession of the Adivasis and a resurvey in their presence was necessary. According to him, the government should order a time-bound resurvey by allotting special survey teams.

He said forest rights under the Act accrued to the tribals even in villages covered by Joint Forest Management schemes implemented by the Forest department but there was no clarity on the part of the forest officials on this. “The government should remove such doubts to make sure that the tribals secure their land ownership rights even in such villages,” he added.

Stating that the FRA provides for ‘community pattas’ being granted in favour of the tribals for hills and ponds, Sarma said the government should order a special drive to recognise those traditional rights and grant the pattas. He lamented the tardy implementation of the land transfer legislation, the law to prevent money lending and the law to ensure that the traders use accurate weights and measures in the Scheduled Areas.

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