KORAPUT TRIBAL’S VICTRY ON CASHEW LAND RIGHT’S AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL-
KORAPUT TRIBAL'S VICTRY ON CASHEW LAND RIGHT'S AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE.
Tribals of Koraput won a major struggle on the cashew land rights. Recently on 31.07.2008 meeting chaired by Chief Minister, Orissa with minister Agriculture, Minister Revenue & Disaster Management, Chief secretary and other high officials, the decision has been taken to hand over the cashews plantation to the tribals of KBK region.
In 1950s onwards there was massive plantation on so-called govt. waste land in Scheduled- V area. This cashew plantation has been raised by Soil Conservation Department. In all the cases such lands were under cultivation by tribals but their rights were not recorded. When settlement took place, tribals because of their ignorance were not in a position to get their possessions recorded, and thus land under their possession got recorded as government wasteland and sometimes transferred to the Forest Department. Thus the poor tribals got described as encroachers even on lands, which were cultivated by their ancestors.
In Koraput district the soil conservation department was established to check the soil erosion in Big dam areas like Machhkund, kolab, Chitrakonda and indrabati Dam area. The plantation of Cashew was taken up in massive scale in that area under different Govt. schemes like 'Economic Rehabilitation of the Rural Poor (ERRP), ITDA( Integrated Tribal development Agency, EAS (Employment assurance Schemes),JRY( Jawhar Rojgar Yojana). At that time the condition with the local community was that the community will take responsibility of watch and ward and the same plantation will be distributed among the landless, marginal and small farmers.
In 6th April,1979 the Govt. of Orissa created "Cashew development Corporation" and the soil conservation department was asked to hand over all the plantation area to the corporation. From the year 1979 the corporation is giving the tender in open market for the yearly lease basis, where most of the non tribals and non dalit people and outsiders are taking the tender and enjoying a good profit. There is also nexus between the leaseholders and the corporation people by which both the parties are benefited in manipulating the tender process.
In the year 1999 Orissa government even contemplated giving long term leases to private parties for managing cashew plantations. One such advertisement appeared in the Economic Times dated 20/4/99. The leases would be given for a period of 35 years for a minimum area of 2000 ha. But it was not materialized because of protest from the local people.
Thus these cashew plantations, raised on land that was supporting livelihood needs of tribals, were handed over to the Orissa State Cashew Development Corporation for management.
The lands that were once with tribals were now with private parties, with the tribals getting no compensation, or rehabilitation. Many of them shifted to the hill slopes, and that resulted in more soil erosion, the prevention of which was the objective of the scheme.
It is ironical that these plantations that deprived the tribals of their possession were funded by schemes called as economic rehabilitation. In addition to cashew, there are similar plantations of coffee and other commercial crops in the area and the tribals are deprived of their legitimate rights.
The Tribals of Koraput from Machhkund Tahsil area under the banner of "DANGAR ADHIKAR SAMITI" ( DAS)initiated the struggle to regain the control over these Cashew land five years back. It started with one village and within five years it spread to 300 villages in and around the Nadapore & Lamtaput block of Koraput district.
The DAS members have organized many rallies and dharnas at District, Tahsil, Block level, Police station, in front of Orissa Cashew Development Corporation office at Jaypore and in front of State Assembly at Bhubaneswar. Hundreds of people have gone jail & many cases are still pending in the local court at Koraput & Jaypore. In spite of all oppression the DAS members continued the struggle and since three years they did not allow the Corporation people and tender holders to enter in to their village cashew field.
One team from DAS meet the chief Minister on 11th June 2007 and at that time the chief minister was had given assurance to hand over the cashew land to Tribals. It took around 18 months for government to come out with the decision. The members of DAS have used every strategy including the RTI & Public hearing to advocate their issues at State level. MLA of Koraput Sri. Tara Prasad Bahinipati helped the DAS members in raising the issue at state level and also in Assembly. SPREAD (SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING RURAL EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT) a voluntary organization working in the koraput district facilitated the process and extend the hand holding support to the DAS members. There are also police cases filed against the team members of SPREAD
THE HINDU, 19.12.2008.
Cashew plantation to be allotted to SC/ST beneficiaries
KORAPUT: A long battle by the tribal people of Koraput district is hopefully won when Satyabrata Sahu, RDC, Southern Region, shared the decision of the Government to transfer at least 7,000 hectares of cashew plantation that was under the occupation of Cashew Corporation in different parts of Koraput district for a long time. Addressing district Collectors and other senior officials from eight districts in the KBK region here, Mr. Sahu said that leaving aside the plantation owned by the corporation, all that was grown with the assistance of ITDA and DRDA in the district would now be distributed among SC and ST beneficiaries by allotting patta for two acres of plantation area to each of them.
He directed the district authorities to expedite the process by conducting gram sabhas for the purpose and send recommendation to the tahsildars. He directed the Collectors to take up a drive to issue pattas to at least 25,000 beneficiaries in the KBK region by the end of the month after going through the applications.
While reviewing the progress of NREGA he expressed satisfaction over the opening of 30,549 passbooks in the post office in Koraput district.
Now around 7000 hectors of cashew land will be distributed among the landless tribals and marginal farmers under dafayati rights, 2 acres per family.Now OSCDC will only ply a promotional role in these areas.The beneficiaries will be selected by the Pallisabha.
At last a long battle was won by the DAS members though it took long five years.
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