ROURKELA: Already in a tizzy over growing tentacles of self-proclaimed PESA rights groups across Sundargarh district, the administration has belatedly initiated institutional measures to contain the fringe tribal outfits and prevent the situation from going out of hand. Demanding self-rule, the tribal groups have been involved in various lawless activities and the district administration can no more afford to ignore the threat from these outfits.
Reliable sources informed that numerous PESA Gram Sabha Committees have come up across the district. These groups have unilaterally declared their Gram Sabhas as ‘liberated zones’ by performing ‘Pathalgadi’ rituals (installations of stone plaques).The committees are seeking a parallel administration sans Government interference with their own interpretation of the provisions of Panchayats (Extensions to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act and Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
Challenging the authority of the district administration on May 13 night, members of Baneilata Gram Sabha Committee detained a team of Hathibari police which had entered the village without taking their permission to execute an arrest. In the midnight, Sundargarh Collector and SP had to rush to the spot to rescue the police team. Similarly, water supply to a residential colony of a private industry in Rajgangpur block has been disrupted by members of another PESA Gram Sabha Committee from the second week of April. Earlier, they had interfered in a power supply network project in Sundargarh sub-division and instances of these fringe outfits stalling Government projects are galore.
It is learnt that these self-declared committees have started sending written representations with the National Emblem to Odisha Governor seeking recognition. However, the district already has legally formed Gram Sabha Committees comprising elected members of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and others.
Sources said the district administration has called a meeting of all stakeholders including MLAs, PRI representatives and members of these self-declared Gram Sabha Committees for course correction on June 20. Sundargarh Collector Surendra Kumar Meena said these fringe outfits are being fed with wrong interpretations of the provisions of PESA Act and Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. These self-declared committees have no legal entity, he said. A senior administrative official informed that only converted tribal people are trying to create disturbance.
President of Sundargarh Special Development Council (SDC) Santosh Amat said all council members would be impressed upon to create awareness among tribals. Police action has already begun in adjacent Jharkhand against those challenging the Constitution on similar lines, he added.