Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 18:
The issue of inclusion of several peripheral tribal villages in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) by the state government against the will of the tribals generated heat in the Odisha Assembly even as the tribals are observing a dawn-to-dusk bandh in the Steel City against the decision.
Noisy scenes were witnessed in the Assembly on the issue forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House till 3 PM.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour today, Opposition chief whip and Congress member from Jeypore Taraprasad Bahinipati called the inclusion of tribal areas in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation by the state government against the will and without the consent of the tribals as ‘totally illegal’.
“The state government’s move to include two tribal panchayats of Jagda and Jhartarang in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation is in violation of Constitutional provisions under Fifth Schedule and Article 244 clause (1) of the Constitution. I would like to inform the government through you that the government cannot takeover or include any tribal land under any circumstances without holding gram sabhas until it obtains special permission from the President of India,” said Prafulla Majhi Congress MLA from Talsara speaking to the media outside the House.
“The government’s move to include four tribal panchayats in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation without holding gram sabhas to obtain the consent of the tribal population as prescribed under PESA is in complete violation of the law and is most unfortunate. The government’s refusal to pay heed to the will of the tribal brothers and sisters is condemnable. We demand that the government should immediately revoke its decision,” said Basant Panda, leader of the BJP legislature party in the state Assembly.
However, BJD spokesperson and MLA from Nimapara Samir Dash said that no illegalities had been committed in the government’s decision.
“Everything has been done in conformity with the law. It is not an issue of taking over of tribal land and hence doesn’t require holding of gram sabhas under PESA. The government’s decision was taken keeping in mind the long-standing demands of the people of Rourkela to declare it as a municipal Corporation. Anybody having any complaints should report it to the appropriate authority within the date notified in the notice issued by the administration in Rourkela,” he said.