Pluckers to hold Gram Sabha on August 15

 The Odisha Kendupatra Karmachari Sangha (OKKS) will hold Gram Sabhas in eight districts on August 15 to adopt proposals for maintaining status quo on procurement of kendu leaf. The Forest department’s kendu leaf wing is now undertaking the procurement. Members of OKKS alleged tha

Published: 12th August 2018 02:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2018 06:56 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

SAMBALPUR: The Odisha Kendupatra Karmachari Sangha (OKKS) will hold Gram Sabhas in eight districts on August 15 to adopt proposals for maintaining status quo on procurement of kendu leaf. The Forest department’s kendu leaf wing is now undertaking the procurement. Members of OKKS alleged that some agents of bidi companies are trying to influence the PRI members of various panchayats to adopt proposal in the Gram Sabha to procure kendu leaf through gram panchayat (GP).

However, purchasing kendu leaves through gram panchayat would gradually lead to privatisation of its procurement, they said. The OKKS leaders are convening meeting at GP level in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Subarnapur, Sundargarh, Nuapada and Angul districts to sensitise the kendu leaf pluckers, binding and seasonal workers over the issue. OKKS president Bijay Mohanty said since people are the owner of the non-timber forest produces (NTFP), including kendu leaves, under the PESA Act, the decision on procurement of kendu leaves will be taken at Gram Sabha. However, some agents are trying to influence the PRI members to procure kendu leaf through panchayat.

As the GPs are devoid of required infrastructure, the panchayats will be forced to depend on bidi companies for infrastructure, which will pave the way for privatisation of kendu leaf trade, he added. Mohanty said the procurement process has already gone into the hands of companies in Nabarangpur and Jeypore divisions besides Golamunda range of Bhawanipatna division after the proposal was adopted at the gram sabha to procure the leaf through GP.

At present, kendu leaf pluckers are availing Government welfare schemes as the procurement is being undertaken by the Forest department. But the pluckers will be deprived of getting such benefits after privatisation of the trade, he said. Earlier, kendu leaf pluckers, binding and seasonal workers under the banner of OKKS had staged a protest across the region over the issue.

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