I was a student of the tribal scene across the country and specially of the gond-inhabited Adilabad,chenchu-areas of Nallamalais and the different tribes of visakapatnam at first-hand from a long time-having worked as a forester in these areas for over 20 years.I have gone through your excellent study [world bank assisted]on land issues in tribal areas of Orissa;.Land and access to NTFP are the main issues in tribal areas as pointed out by you.
More than hundred tribal rebellions/uprisings with considerable loss of innocent tribal lives have occurred,in tribal areas across the country , in the last 150 years of forest administration ; all against the restrictive forest laws that deprived the tribals of access to land and NTFP; till the advent of the forest conservation act in 1980, state governments have been periodically dis-reserving reserve forest land found under use by tribals due to population increase or loss of land to non-tribals; the demand for land was being met,though reluctantly by these post-facto political dispensations.This process was arrested after the conservation act came into force with its compensatory afforestation provisions; compensatory afforestation is based on a wrong premise. The whole concept of compensatory areas for afforestation is based on the priciple that thirty three percent of geographical area of the country should be under forests and that we should make good any loss of forest area to make up for it- a provision in the 1952 national forest policy that obssesed the forest establishment and the environment lobby for the last five decades; a more scientific approach is the land capability classification which prescribes land use based on gradient,soil,rainfall etc;according to this lands above 65 degrees slope need be put under permanent vegetation like trees or forests.In a country with a tremendous hunger for land , putting 33 percent under forests is difficult and not needed if we go by land capability concept;as it is, the present area under forests[68million hectares] in the country is equal to the combined area of the states of the Gangetic plains from Haryana to West-Bengal!according to forest survey reports,over one-third of this land is degraded and denuded.Instead of providing for compensatory land,monetary compensation should be increased to utilise the funds for reclothing degraded areas within the existing Forest Empire;even with an unlimited availability of funds it will take over fifty years to cover these estimated twenty million hectares successfully ! when you have so much degraded land to work on within the existing forest estate why take more such land! Besides the areas being given for compensatory afforestation are bits and pieces in small units,often away from the existing forest blocks ,with shallow eroded soils ,unsuitable for planting and impossible for protection;Even if success is achieved initially,over a period of time, they will vanish due to biotic pressure;a random visit to areas planted ten or 15 years back will prove this;there is an extinction threshold for forests just like for species;below a certain minimum of area, forests disappear;only large blocks of forests thrive not only because of better protection but also due to creation of conducive ecosystem dynamics.In our anxiety to count the trees and the expenditure by the auditors ,we are loosing the big picture of the woods. Redrawing the forest boundaries on the basis of land capability classification,promoting perennial crops such as coffee plantations, transferring ownership rights at least of NTFP on the balance forest areas to tribal communities are some of the measures needed urgently to improve tribal economy and bring some peace and reduce the influence of extremist activity in tribal areas . Regarding the problem of mining by big corporations like vedanta or posco,some developmental activities are location specific;mining can be done only where the minerals are found and often these are forest/tribal areas;the decision to mine or not should be with the gram sabha,which can also allot land to families displaced;adoptng the samata judgement, the royalty should go to a locally formed tribal development society, to undertake developmental activities. It is estimated that the tribal / forest areas in Andhra pradesh possess 600 million tonnes of bauxite ;govt.policy combined with corporate clout and global demand ensure exploitation of these somehow or other;at hundred rupees per tonne royalty this can give an income of Rs.60000 million to the tribal society;by proper utilization including environmental safeguarding and tribal displacement ,these funds can bring prosperity to tribal communities;instead of being mute spectators to unwanted displacement and loot of their resources they should be enabled to exploit wisely the resources in their area for their benefit. For the benefit of readers of this note I am giving some statistics culled form the 'state of forest report 2005'by forest survey of India-There are 188 tribal districts spread over 26 states;the total forest cover in these districts is 40 million hectares which is 36.81%of their geographical area;though tribal districts form only 33.5% of the geographical area of the country,the forest cover in these districts is 60.11%.All north east states have over 75% of geographical area under forest cover;while they form 7.76% of the geographical area of the country,they account for 29.11%of the forest cover-. comment 1.-The tribal districts have both tribal areas and non-tribal areas;if we only consider the forest cover in tribal areas of these districts ,it may vary fron 60 to 80% and taking into consideration that these are hilly terrain ,very little flat land is available for tribal agriculture. comment 2.-In the north east the area under forest cover is much more than the reserved forest area in spite of practicing shifting cultivation;this is due to not only low population levels but also wise community management of shifting cultivation demands.
RKRAO Less desires,more happiness. Conservation in a nutshell.
"More than enough food is produced to feed a healthy global population. Distribution and access to food is a problem - many are hungry, while at the same time many overeat,, "we are providing food to take care of not only our necessary consumption but also our wasteful habits.As much as half of the water used to grow food globally may be lost or wasted," says Dr. Charlotte de Fraiture of IWMI "Saving Water: From Field to Fork - Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain,"
Statistics show that producing to feed farmed animals requires vast amounts of water – it takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water to produce food for a meat eater. "If we're honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emission of greenhouses," said Pachauri.
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