Monday, October 6, 2008

BIS # 1136 SEMINAR ON FOREST ACT AT KAWANT

Gregory Almeida sdb KAWANT, OCTOBER 6, 2008: Don Bosco Kawant, organized a one day seminar on Saturday, October 4, on the ‘Jungle Zamin Act 2006’. About 525 members from some 80 Self Help Groups were present for the seminar. The main speaker for the day was Mr. Kantibhai from the Rajpipla Social Service Centre. The seminar began at 11.00 am with a video film, Umti Umang Ni Damri. This film focused on the concept of a Self Help Group and its role in managing issues concerning the village. Then, at 12.00 pm, Mr. Kantibhai began his presentation on the issue of Jungle Zamin. He explained in detail the Forest Act and how it gives Adivasi families ownership over the forest land they have been cultivating before December 13, 2005. The Act also grants rights to the community (Gram Sabha) over the use and protection of the forest and its resources (especially the minor products including bamboos) around the village. Accordingly, each family can get as much land as they have been cultivating (maximum 10 acres) in the joint name of the husband and the wife. Even those who have been evicted forcefully by the forest department can claim the land that they have been cultivating before 2005. This Act also has provisions for setting up infrastructure for development, like schools, anganvadis, fair price shops, roads etc. Many of the participants were surprised to hear about this Act and its provisions. They stated that their village leaders and government officials had kept them in the dark about it. They were grateful to Don Bosco Kawant for making them aware about their land rights. In conclusion, it was decided to hold another meeting on October 20, to make more people aware about this Act and to chalk out an action plan for the tribal families to claim their land rights.

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