Stakeholders at Odisha Vikash Conclave 2016 have outlined the theme to and design the road map as a part of good governance and sustainable development.
Growing tribal unrest following impoverishment of tribal communities and alienation from their land, forest and mineral resources in the country as a whole and Odisha in particular, reveal an acute resentment of tribal people towards their state of under-development. As compared to other sections of the Indian society, the tribal population has the lowest Human Development Index (HDI). In addition, they suffer from geographical and cultural exclusion, which are not captured in the HDI. Lack of food security, sanitation, safe drinking water, poor nutrition and high poverty levels aggravate the poor health status of the tribals in the State. Forced and distress migration is common to many communities but it has of late been high in certain tribal pockets of the State.
The issue of tribal land grabbing for so-called development projects in violation of the provisions of PESA, 1996 and FRA 2006 have been glaring in different parts of the State. There are also cases of massive land grabbing by non-tribal individual contract farmers and companies. The collection and marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for most tribal families in the State , which contributes around 40% of their total income. In spite of the provisions in PESA and FRA, recognizing the ownership, control and management of all forest produce by the Gram Sabhas, collection and trade of MFP is largely monopolized by the corporations of the Forest Department.
PESA requires the State Governments to change their existing laws, wherever these are inconsistent with the Central legislation. In reality, very little has happened. Many state governments including Odisha have passed laws or amended existing ones, but unfortunately the amendments are not made fully in conformity with the Central law.
The quality of governance is an extremely critical input in development. The level of administration of Scheduled and other tribal areas has to be raised expeditiously to match the challenges. At this point of time, when the country is moving towards an accelerated GDP growth rate of 8% -9%, it is necessary to ensure that all segments of society participate in and benefit from the growth and the much talked about ‘inclusive development.’
In this backdrop, the Odisha Development Conclave-2016 would focus on the following key areas in its discussion and deliberations and prepare key policy asks for establishing tribal rights and self-governance in the state of Odisha.
- Implementation of PESA in Fifth Schedule areas
- Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms for FRA implementation
- Mechanisms for allocating TSP funds for inter-sectoral prioritization
- Control & management of forests by Gram Sabhas and local communities
- Scope and challenges of strengthening ITDAs in Schedule Areas.
- Special mechanisms & measures for PVTGs
- Strengthening Support System for MFP-based livelihood
- Enforcement of laws and restoration of alienated lands to tribals
- Sharing of good practices and the opportunity to scale up