THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:The government has finalised decisions on 25,500 applications seeking land under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Friday.
Inaugurating the six-day ‘Kanana Sangamam’ fest organised by the Forest Department, he said that the government had received 32,000 applications in all. The remaining applications would be attended to soon, he said. Calling the tribal communities the rightful heirs to the forests, Chandy said that the government would take all steps necessary to ensure their welfare.
Poet Sugathakumari, who launched the ‘Kadinunarvu Oorinunarvu’ project at the function, expressed the hope that the tribal communities develop more strength to prevent themselves from being exploited. She expressed her apologies to the tribal people for the exploitation they have suffered at the hands of outsiders and the atrocities committed against them over the centuries. No other society in the world has faced exploitation to such an extent as the tribals, she said. ‘’I pray that you have more strength to fight for your rights,’’ Sugathakumari said.
Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who presided over the inauguration, said that such a festival was a first for the country. So far, 2350 representatives from 36 tribes have registered their names for attending the festival. ‘’We expect another 1000 representatives,’’ he said.
The six-day festival at Kanakakkunnu Palace grounds would showcase various aspects of tribal life, including their medical systems, art forms and cuisines.
According to Radhakrishnan, it also provides the tribal communities an opportunity to interact among themselves and with city dwellers and present their problems before the mainstream society.
Mayor K Chandrika launched the ‘Oorumitra’ project on the occasion. District Panchayat president Ansajitha Russell, Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson, DGP K S Balasubramanian, Principal Secretary (Forests) P Marapandyan and B S Corrie, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief of Forest Force, spoke.
The festival will end on April 22.