NEW DELHI: National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) chairman Nand Kumar Sai Wednesday said tribal people, who live close to nature and worship it, are being driven out of forests and nobody is willing to talk about them on World Environment Day.
He also suggested that MPs hold an intensive discussion on the issue of pollution on the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament that is scheduled to begin on June 17.
"The condition is so bad. People are dying due to the oppressive heat. You are cutting down trees in the name of development and driving tribal people out of their home. These people live close to nature, worship and protect it. But sadly, no one is willing to talk about their plight on World Environment Day," Sai told PTI.
On the issue of land ownership of tribals, he asked, "Who are you to question their right over forest land?" "They have been living in jungles for decades. These innocent people are unaware of the technicalities of laws," Sai said.
The Supreme Court had on February 13 ordered eviction of 11.8 lakh "illegal forest dwellers" whose claim for land rights had been rejected.
However, on February 28, the apex court stayed its ruling and directed the states to file affidavits detailing the process adopted in rejecting the claims.
The next hearing will take place in July. To combat pollution, the NCST chairman suggested that the government ask every citizen to plant a tree and take care of it.
"The time for formality and photo sessions while planting trees is over. We are 1.3 billion people. The government should bring in one man-one tree policy," Sai said.
"I appeal to the newly-elected MPs that they should hold an intensive debate on the issue of pollution on the first day of the Budget Session," he said.
On river pollution, Sai said, "First, you built dams on the Ganga, allowed effluents to flow into it. Now, you're sanctioning budgets to clean the river."