Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 8:
Taking strong exception to some recent changes made in the Forest Right Act (FRA) by the Odisha government, the Union ministry of Tribal Affairs has called it ‘illegal’.
In a letter to Odisha Chief Secretary Gokul Chandra Pati, the Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs Arun Jha has raised questions on changes made to FRA during FRA State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) on July 21.
Despite MoTA’s clear directive against it, the state government has decided to give community forest rights to Vana Surakshya Samities (VSS), which can only be given to gram sabhas according to the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
This change has been pushed through even after the MoTA had clarified to the state government over video conference on July 14 that only gram sabha has the power to appoint a committee and VSS committees cannot automatically be given any CFR rights.
MoTA has also dismissed the decision taken by SLMC to co-opt the superintendents of police (SPs), additional SPs as DLC members and sub divisional police officers (SDPOs) as the SDLC members as special invitees, calling it violation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 and Forest Rights Rules.
MoTA has asked Odisha chief secretary to withdraw if such instructions have been given to the implementing officers.