Tribal leader Lalsu Nogoti has raised the issue of violation of the Forest Rights Act and Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 by the state government before an international conference held at Geneva recently. Nogoti, a Zilla Parishad councillor from Bhamragad, was invited by the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section of the United Nations High Commission of Human Rights for a month long conference between June 19 to July 14. He was the only Indian and one among the three members from the Asian countries (Pakistan and Indonesia being two others) who were invited for this conference in which representatives of 33 countries from all over the world participated.
“The conference was useful for me to understand the issues regarding human rights and problems of indigenous people and also to raise the issues of the indigenous people,” Nogoti told PTI.Nogoti presented a paper before the conference in which he stated that both the Forest Rights Act and PESA are being violated by the state in Surjagad mining case. Under PESA Act, 1996, Gram Sabhas need to be consulted before approval and allocation of the mining and other big projects. The Forest Rights Act 2006 also recognises the rights of the indigenous people over natural resources and customary habitation, he said.
However, the state government has allocated the entire Surjagad hills to a private company for its excavation without any such prior consultation and has violated its own laws, Nogoti pointed out. He added, inspite of strong resistance from people, the government has gone ahead with its proposal and one of the company has already started excavation of mines and felling of trees in large scale.