Tribals demand Forest Rights Act

Muthamma was addressing the gathering at the screening of the documentary ‘Kaadina Makkala Ulivu’ organised by the People's Movement for Human Rights here on Monday.

“Even today, there are around 23,000 people living in forests. Where should they go?  Our fathers and forefathers lived here and protected the forest and its animals.  Suddenly, the Forest department with some fake environmental organisation wants us to leave. We want to secure our rights and demand enforcement of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act in the State," she said. The Act concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities and their access to the forest produce.

Muthamma alleged that Forest officials were foisting false cases against them ever since Nagarhole was identified for setting up a  tiger reserve.

“There are hardly any tigers in the region. There have been instances of officials bringing tigers from different zoos and leaving them in the forest. The tigers have killed many tribals.”

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission chairman Justice Dr S R Naik received a memorandum from the dwellers of Nagarahole forest. Justice Naik said it is the duty of the government to protect the rights of the adivasis and forest dwellers. 

Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister S Suresh Kumar said he would consider the demands of forest dwellers after meeting them. "Since the Forest Rights Act is a Central legislation we need to take a decision on implementing it. A decision will be taken shortly," he said.

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