Raipur-Members of over 2,000 tribal families trudged through 62 km of forest to demand the implementation of their 25-point charter of demands, including papers establishing their forest rights, at the earliest, officials said Sunday.
“More than 2,0000 people had reached Kawardha, the Kabirdham district headquarters Saturday to demand forest rights papers besides raising other problems. After listening to their grievances, the district administration has sought necessary directives from the state government to sort out the issues,” said Kabirdham District Collector Mukesh Kumar Bansal.
About 2,180 tribal and non-tribal families inhabiting 62 villages in 14 panchayats of the Pandariya block have been left devoid of forest right papers (‘Van Adhikar Patta’) which give them legal rights on their land falling under the scheduled forest areas.
Angered by the state administration’s lethargic attitude towards completing the distribution of forest rights papers to all eligible families residing in forested areas, the inhabitants of these villages, belonging mainly to the Baiga tribe, launched a three-day foot march under the banner of ‘Jan Van Adhikar Manch’ Sep 20. They reached the district headquarters after covering the 62 km distance Saturday to draw the attention of the state government to their plight.
After reaching Kawardha, the protestors staged demonstrations and also sat on a ‘dharna’ at Vir Stambh chowk, insisting on meeting none other than the district collector himself to hand over their memorandum. They refused to meet the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and additional collector R.D. Diwan. They ended their sit-in only when District Collector Bansal, who was on a field visit, returned within an hour and met them.
Kawardha, located about 100 km west of state capital Raipur, is the home town of Chief Minister Raman Singh. (IANS)