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Indian Tribals call for recognition of rights to land and livelihoods
In late February representatives from the tribes of Manipur met during a consultation "On Tribals' Land, Forests & Natural Resources." Participants expressed their concerns over violations of their land rights and related consequences for their livelihoods and communities.
The consultation was particularly critical of state development projects that come at the expense of forest dwelling peoples’ societies and livelihoods. Consultation participants voiced complaints about the Joint Forest Management policy of 1996, citing it as an example of the State's attempts to infringe on the land rights of forest peoples. The consultation also claimed that the Forest Department has been arbitrarily carving out areas of Reserved Forest from community-governed forestlands without informing local communities, or by deceiving them.
The consultation resolved that a people’s identity, culture, livelihood, and indeed its very existence, are all based upon its rights to its traditional lands and resources. By extension, the consultation declared, all ongoing struggles to which the tribes are parties have securing rights to traditional territories and resources as a fundamental element.
As a step toward gaining redress of their grievances, the consultation resolved to advocate a modification of the Supreme Court’s 1996 Interim Order and to urge the Hill Area Committee to take immediate action in defense of land and forest rights for the tribal peoples of Manipur. Lastly, the consultation equated upholding the rights of tribal communities with conservation in its truest form, noting that “We have been managing our land and resources since time immemorial as sovereign communities. We call upon all to recognize and accept this.”
The consultation was organized by the All Tribal Lawyers Association and the Manipur & Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights.
Read the complete article in The Morung Express here.
Posted By Colby Clabaugh at 2:32pm on April 04, 2008
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