This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Down To Earth. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

This Is How The Chhattisgarh Govt. Is ‘Punishing’ Tribals For Protesting Against Coal Mining

More from Down To Earth

By Shruti Agarwal

Note: This article has been republished from Down To Earth.

Young_Baiga_women,_IndiaFor the first time in 10 years of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the Chhattisgarh government has cancelled forest rights allotted to tribals of Ghatbarra village in Surguja district. In an order issued on January 8, 2016, the state forest department stated that village residents were using their rights to oppose mining in coal blocks outside the forest compartments allotted to them.

Surguja was the first district in Chhattisgarh to grant community forest rights under the Act. But the title deeds were riddled with controversy. Ghatbarra village had claimed community rights over eight forest compartments. Of these, the tribals received title deeds for only three compartments. The remaining five compartments were under the Prasa East and Kete Besan coal blocks allocated to Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RVUNL) and operated by Adani Minerals Private Limited. Ghatbarra appealed to the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) against the exclusion of the five compartments, but the committee took no action on the complaint.

Review By The Forest Department

The coal blocks had received clearance in 2012 and Ghatbarra received forest rights title deeds in 2013. The state forest department has reasoned that since the clearance had come prior to the title deeds, the deeds could be “cancelled”. This conclusion formed the basis for the government order in January.

Activists have termed this move as a violation of the Forest Rights Act because cancellation of rights once recognised has not been provided for either in this or any other Act under the Constitution. In fact, the Forest Rights Bill of 2005 did have the provision of cancellation of rights if evidence of their violation was established. However, the Joint Parliamentary Committee constituted to review the Bill had observed that forest rights were as fundamental in nature as those pertaining to the right to life and, hence, removed such a provision.

Chhattisgarh forest department overlooked two other concerns while assessing the situation:

Forest clearance for the two coal blocks had been given without the settlement of forest rights. This is a violation of FRA, which requires the process of recognition of rights to be completed before granting clearance.

Diversion of forest for non-forest purposes like mining requires the consent of the affected Gram Sabhas. No such consent had been obtained. In fact, the Gram Sabhas in Surguja, including Ghatbarra, had passed formal resolutions in December 2014 opposing mining in their region.

Forest rights activists say the illegality of the January order is unquestionable. They have warned they will take the matter to court if the order is not withdrawn immediately. “We are organising a regional consultation on March 1 to review the recent violations of FRA. If needed, we will file a PIL,” said Devjit Nandi from All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM).

Poor Implementation Of FRA In Chhattisgarh

The SLMC’s role in facilitating implementation of FRA remains unclear. Besides being unresponsive to the demands of the Gram Sabhas, the SLMC constituted a sub-committee to be chaired by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to review implementation. The SLMC also asked the forest department in 2009 to immediately issue title deeds in case of undisputed claims, together with the revenue department. Neither of these departments have the authority to allot title deeds under the Act. The tribal department, which is the nodal agency for the implementation of the Act, found no mention in the SLMC’s direction. Since then, the forest department has assumed control of the FRA process on ground and has undermined the role of the tribal department in a state where approximately 40 percent of the population is tribal.

There have been other instances of violation of the FRA in the state but no action has been taken in either case. The state government has signed MoUs with many mining companies for projects on forest lands which have been interpreted as ineligible under FRA despite several claims on them. Several claims have been rejected on the grounds that they have been made on “disputed” land, popularly called “orange” areas.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI) report of 2013 states, “It must be noted that these orange areas are recorded in records of both forest and revenue department and so long as the land is recorded as forest land, it comes under the ambit of the FRA. Thus, denying rights over such lands is in violation of the law.” A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report of the same year confirmed this trend saying that the loss of forest land for industrial development is leaving the forest-dwelling communities in Chhattisgarh with no other option but to migrate to towns and provide cheap labour. Instances such as the one of the Ghatbarra tribals have put a question mark over the future of the Act which intended to undo the “historic injustice” suffered by forest-dwelling communities.

You must be to comment.
  1. Priyanshi Chauhan

    Everyone wants development and high GDP growth rates. Infact India boasts of one of the highest growth rates in the world. This is not the end. We must realise that development and growth rates are not an end in itself; infact they are the means to an end -to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, exploitation, provide health care and making the society more equitable. As we can see, such actions of the government is not helping us develop; infact it is the capitalists who are developing and making money at the expense of already deprived section. Is this the kind of development that we want?

  2. arvind

    the day socialist and communist r wiped from india.
    That day will be true freedom.
    Their economic ideas r plain stupid.

  3. arvind

    And please change name to “communist awaaz”.
    Youth of this nation r fed up of socialists.
    They want india to be superpower ,
    not poorest country of world.

  4. arvind

    why my comment not posted???.
    such a irony!.
    these communist, give other lecture abt tolerance.

More from Down To Earth

Similar Posts

By Down To Earth

By Down To Earth

By Down To Earth

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below