ROURKELA: A group of tribal rights activists came down heavily on the State Government on Wednesday for exploitation of tribals and forcible acquisition of their land.
Speaking at the three-day tribal convention that began at Jhirpani here on Wednesday, the activists accused the State and Central Governments of trying to suppress the voice of tribals in the name of development.
The convention, being held under the aegis of Adivasi Mulwasi Bachao Manch (AMBM), aims to reach out to tribal masses of the district and beyond.
The convention will press for protection of tribal rights under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, Forest Rights Act and other relevant laws to ensure natural rights of tribals on water, forest and land.
State convenor of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Prafulla Samantara claimed that tribals are deprived of special Constitutional protections enshrined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The laws are implemented by the State Government to suit its own needs, he said, adding that Governor of Odisha SC Jamir should step in to protect tribal interests.
Venkatesh, a lawyer who is associated with Samata judgment of the Supreme Court, said the PESA Act which makes Gram Sabhas the final decision making bodies is being violated. He exhorted the tribals to unite for legal and political fights. Birmitrapur MLA and AMBM leader George Tirkey and former MLA of Raghunathpali Halu Mundari also spoke.