ROURKELA:A day after Sundargarh administration warned tribal PESA rights activists against disrupting development projects on Government land, two local Gram Sabha committees on Sunday reiterated their demand for self-rule as per tribal traditions.
The tribal-dominated Sundargarh district is a Scheduled District under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution where Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act is applicable.
Claiming their right over land, the tribal activists unveiled two huge concrete plaques at Hamirpur and Tumkela mouza of Sector-18 here as part of a tradition to earmark the jurisdiction of the committees. Leaders of the committees Oskar Kullu and Christopher Kerketta were present. The plaques, written in Hindi, cite various Articles of the Constitution and a few court judgments to claim that some States under the Act have ‘non-judicial areas’ where Community Gram Sabhas and traditional tribal practices are constitutional provisions in themselves. The plaques read that community Gram Sabhas are above Lok Sabha and Assembly and tribals are Natural Revenue Community and beyond land revenue rules. Community Gram Sabhas have special powers to issue Records of Rights of land along with birth, death, residential and character certificates, they cited.
With the ‘misguided’ tribal PESA rights activists confronting administrative officers to run a parallel administration, a meeting was convened by district Collector Vineet Bhardwaj with elected representatives on Saturday in Sundargarh town. The Collector claimed that as per the provisions of PESA Act, development works are being taken up on Government land in the district. He warned of action against those who are opposing development projects.
The warnings failed to stop the tribal activists from going ahead with their plan. Among others, MLAs Mangala Kishan (BJD), George Tirkey (Independent), Prafulla Majhi (Congress) and Yogesh Singh (Congress) and Sundargarh Zilla Parishad president Emma Ekka (BJD) attended. While some of them claimed PESA Act was not being implemented in right spirit, a majority of them supported continuation of development projects.