The Baiga Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) became the second to get habitat rights in the Chhattisgarh, after the Kamar PVTG.
What are habitat rights?
Habitat rights recognition provides the community concerned rights over their
customary territory of habitation
economic and livelihood means
intellectual knowledge of biodiversity and ecology
traditional knowledge of use of natural resources
protection and conservation of their natural and cultural heritage
These rights safeguard and promote traditional livelihood and ecological knowledge passed down through generations.
They also help converge different government schemes and initiatives from various departments to empower PVTG communities to develop their habitats.
About Baiga PVTG
The Baiga community primarily resides in Rajnandgaon, Kawardha, Mungeli, Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi (GPM), Manendra-Bharatpur-Chirmiri, and Bilaspur districts of the state.
The community also lives in the adjacent districts of Madhya Pradesh.
A total of 19 Baiga villages with a population of 6,483 people (2,085 families) have been given the habitat rights.
What does ‘habitat’ mean, under what law are such rights granted?
Habitat rights are given to PVTGs under section 3(1) (e) [rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities] of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
According to Section 2(h) of FRA, “Habitat includes the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.”
How powerful are these rights?
Forest Rights have legal protection under the Forest Conservation Act, the Land Acquisition law of 2013, and even the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities. Act.
Grant of habitat rights under the Forest Rights Act provide an additional layer of legal protection.
If any kind of development activity is hampering their habitat rights, the tribal group concerned can take up the matter with the administration under the Forest Rights Act, and if not resolved, the matter can be taken to court.
How many PVTG have recognised habitat rights?
Out of 75 PVTG in India, only three have habitat rights.
The Bharia PVTG in Madhya Pradesh was the first, followed by the Kamar tribe and now the Baiga tribe in Chhattisgarh.
About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG)
Tribal communities who are technologically backward, who have stagnant or declining population growth, extremely low level of literacy, and a subsistence level of economy are declared as PVTG.
PVTGs have low health indices and largely reside in isolated, remote, and difficult areas in small and scattered hamlets/habitats.
There are 75 PVGTs in 18 states and one Union Territory.