A half-day consultation was organized by Hunger Free West Bengal Campaign a right based campaign for the survival of the people with dignity and it’s beyond the basic need for protection from starvation and sponsored by Liberty Institute an independent public policy research and advocacy organization, based in New Delhi, India. Liberty Institute is dedicated to enhancing individual freedom in economic and political domains. The objective of the Consultation was to review the progress of the Forest Rights Act 2006, in the state of West Bengal and its implementation in order to assess the status and its effectiveness in West Bengal which gave a plat-form for Hunger Free West Bengal Campaign a right based campaign to lead the initiatives in joint hands with Liberty Institute New Delhi. The idea came out with a view of explicit and evident in tribal areas among the tribal population basically those coming within the Schedule V substantially affected and people have been the biggest victims of dis-appointment on account of development projects. The tribal areas constitute the main target of mining and industrialization protected forest reserve after denial of rights access of local communities. Many scenarios were discussed in the meeting of this meaningful consultation taking entire India’s picture as the access land continues to be of critical significance in large parts of India that includes West Bengal as well. The entire socio-economic and political network continues to revolve around these issues. As narrated above this meaningful event was conducted in joint partnering of Liberty Institute- New Delhi at Conference Hall of Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata.
1. To generate awareness about land and property rights, and explore the implications of recognizing the land rights of communities living in and around forest areas for generations in West Bengal.
2. To identify grassroots active agencies and active citizens, who might be taking lead in supporting the communities document their land claims.
3. A review of implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the state of West Bengal. The objective is to assess the progress, identify the bottlenecks, and explore ways of improving the efficacy of this law, which is aimed at recognizing the land rights of communities living in and around forests.
The point of Discussion:
40 number of government and non-organizations represented in this event and shared the view with the discussion under a panelist followed with a way for ward and road map for future. Welcome address of given by Mr. Ashis Das-Convener of Hunger Free West Bengal Campaign who welcomed the guest and participants of the events including encouraging the participants to take up the issues of Forest Rights Act in a significant ways. Total 62 Participants were able to be a part of this meaningful event.
The programme was chaired and ably conducted by Sri Raktim Mukhopadhyay, an eminent Social Activist and a member of Hunger Free West Bengal Campaign for long years.
The followings are the points shared and discussed by Sr. Barun Mitra- Director, Liberty Institute New Delhi while presenting Concept Note of the Consultation.
The concept of evolution of Land and Property Rights. A people’s initiative to facilitate mapping of land in tribal villages in forest areas under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006. A Brief background about the plight of villagers, particularly tribal communities living in and around forest areas. Their social, economic and political conditions .Importance of the initiative to document and submit claims regarding private land holding, as well as village common land, to the concerned authorities under the Forest Rights Act 2006. This law, for the first time, allows tribal populations in forest villages to claim land title. The use of GPS devices and satellite images that provides an opportunity to the people to document the claims, democratize the process thro’ wider participation and transparency, and help to implement the FRA law, both in letter and spirit in order to map the agriculture and common land of villagers, by collecting the lat/long coordinates for the plots, information about their ownership claims and land usage.
Most importantly, the aim was to attract others in similar situation to join hands, and make this a truly people’s initiative to know, document and claim their own assets, and be empowered as free citizens of India. He also shared that it could be critical to join hands with motivated people at the grassroots, attract the entrepreneurial talent, and skilled people to help realize the true potential of this initiative but still then a strong network of Gram Sabha and other active agencies that could come forward and implement these matters in a substantial ways to address.
He expressed that a platform will be very useful in demonstrating the viability of such an initiative, demystify the technology and make it a practical tool to solve one of the most critical challenges facing the country. Mr. Barun discussed on the issues of Gram Sabha, Panchayat, demand for economic development and environmental protection, prospect for dispossessed and displaced. Gram Sabha to recommend the claims. Recongnition of land rights for every adult couple upto maximum of 4 hectors, forest management, grazing waters, firewood, fishing etc.
He also shared role of GPS and IT in this initiatives.
Mr. Gautam Bandopadhyay shared the experiences of other state like Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand on marginalized communities how the affected communities are addressing the issues and its implications.
Professor. Satyabrata Chaudhry, Indian Association facilitated with the participants regarding various issues related to FRA and its implementation in West Bengal context. The participants shared different experiences, basically agency like CASA, Loka Kalyan Parishad, expressed that it is got recent experience in working with the tool of GPS as CASA ans LKP have been working on rural development and rural initiatives in the state of West Bengal.
The entire day program was led with a meaningful conclusion of Mr. Raktim Mukhopadhayay who has be actively involved in the development sectors in addressing the issues that concern to the process of development of rural poor.
A road map for the future
Land Right issues and Forest Right Act 2006, was discussed in detail the relevance of land rights in wider sense of political and economic development and possibilities of extending the tribal and other marginalized communities living in the forest areas map and document their rights. This was after all assessing the prospect of such an exercise in West Bengal. A road map for future was done that possible partnership with local organization and individuals working in the forested and interior location in the state. The way forward was to develop a strong network of organizations working in the similar issues in order to generate advocacy initiatives with the rural poor in ensuring their rights.
1.30 p.m - 2.p.m
2 p.m. – 2.10 p.m
Welcome Address and Introduction
Sri Ashis Das, Convener HFWBC
2.10 p.m – 2.45 p.m
FRA: Its Status and cross learning in different states
Sri Barun Mitra, Liberty Institute
2.45 p.m – 3.00 p.m
FRA and Marginalized Communities – Experience Sharing
Sri Gautam Bandopadhyay
3.00p.m – 4.15 p.m
Experience Sharing From Participants- on West Bengal Context
Facilitator : Professor Satyabrata Chaudhry
4.15 p.m – 4.25p.m
Sri Raktim Mukhopadhyay
4.25 p.m – 4.30 p.m
Vote of Thanks
Dr. Bibekananda Sanyal
End of Report