BHUBANESWAR: With the State Government still monopolising kendu leaf trade in violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram on Monday urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to provide absolute rights over the minor forest produce (MFP) to tribals and other traditional forest dwellers.
Taking up the problems of kendu leaf pluckers of Golamunda block in Kalahandi district with the Chief Minister, Oram said the rights of the tribals for free trade of the MFP are violated by authorities who are custodian of law.
“Since the State Government has not taken any step to amend the Odisha Kendu Leaves (Control of Trade) Act, 1961 in line with the provisions of the FRA, poor villagers are deprived of their rights thereby losing livelihood and are facing untold difficulties,” Oram wrote in a letter to the Chief Minister.
Kalahandi district administration is unable to resolve the problems of the tribals as the provisions of the State and the Central Acts are not in conformity with each other, Oram said.
Though the Odisha Kendu Leaf Corporation is the only authorised agency to procure, store and market kendu leaves in the State, its monopoly over the trade ceases after the implementation of FRA which recognised the rights of the tribals and other traditional forest dwellers over the MFP.
The Government has deregulated kendu leaf trade in Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts.
Noting that the FRA has overriding effect on all other Acts including those of the States, the Union Minister expressed concern over the apathy of the Government in making suitable changes in the provisions of the State laws regulating the kendu leaf trade.
Instead of implementing the provisions of the FRA in letter and spirit, the State Government has approached the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to amend the existing provisions to extend the benefit to other forest dwellers, Oram said.
“I am to remind you that the implementation of FRA is the sole responsibility of the State Government. The district and sub-divisional officers concerned should be sensitised as the number of cases (over forest rights) rejected at their level is much higher,” the letter stated.
The Union Minister further brought to the notice of the Chief Minister about large number of complaints on undue delay in handing over possession of forest land allotted in favour of forest dwellers.