Forest Rights denied to Indigenous Forest Dwellers

 “We won’t leave the forest, even if it meant that you kill us.”This is what the people belonging to an indigenous tribal community in Bhadal village of Badwani told outsiders as they entered their forest with axes and spades to whittle Sal trees.

The entire village of Bhadal came together in fear as their resources got depleted due to the unmindful cutting and collection of firewood by outsiders. They chalked out the entire extent of 1200 acres of their forest area and started guarding the boundaries. Fifty-three of the indigenous residents came together to protect their forest as a result of which, in six years time the forest became fuller with animals and birds. They submitted an application to the Village Council under the Forest Rights Act in order to get their rights to communal ownership of the forest land. Till date, they are waiting for the approval of their rights.

The Government of Madhya Pradesh was the first to decide to take up implementation of the Forest Rights Act, issuing the first round of instructions to identify community rights in January 2008. The process was initiated and the Forest Rights Committees were mobilized to register applications for individual and community rights, as per a study report by Samarthan along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Another interesting finding as stated in the report shows that “A total of 3,816 community claims were approved in Madhya Pradesh till July 2010, with Umariya ranking first with 742 approved claims whereas the number of community claims is negligible in several districts such as Badwani, Mandla, Seoni, Khargone, Chindwara and Sidhi, which have a large tribal population and a sizeable forest area.” And this video shows a community of forest dwellers from Badwani awaiting their rights for a long time now.

It is in light of this that Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki urges the viewers to call the collector of Badwani district Tejaswini Naik on +91-9165471777 and build pressure so that these people get their rights to the forest land which they live to protect.


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