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Status of Indigenous people in India: An Analysis

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    20th Dec, 2018
  • Recently, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has said that projects seeking to divert forest lands do not need to comply with forest rights act (FRA) for initial clearance.
  • The decision has side-lined the concerns of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and raises concerns that FRA provisions will be diluted.

Issue

Context

  • Recently, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has said that projects seeking to divert forest lands do not need to comply with forest rights act (FRA) for initial clearance.
  • The decision has side-lined the concerns of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and raises concerns that FRA provisions will be diluted.

Background

  • The recent decision of the Environment Ministry was regarding several coal mining projects of Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) “being stalled at various levels” of the state’s forest department. WCL, a subsidiary of the Union Ministry of Coal, sought to divert forest land under for the projects.
  • The decision also clarifies that compliance with the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) is not required for initial stage of forest conservation (FC) approval.
  • The FC process, according to the Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA), 1980, is carried out in two stages—Stage I, the in-principle approval, and Stage II, the final approval. The rules amended in 2016 made FRA-compliance a prerequisite for diverting forest land. But the stage in which it is to be done has become a bone of contention.
  • The decision has also brought the limelight to the plight of indigenous people in India and the struggle they face to protect their rights.

About

Who are Indigenous people?

  • Indigenous people, also known as aboriginal peoples or native peoples are ethnic groups who are the original settlers of a given region; they maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with a given region.
  • They may be settled in a given region or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but they are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world.

Adivasi

    • Adivasi is the collective term for the indigenous peoples of mainland South Asia. According to the 2011 census, Adivasi make up 6% of India's population, and a large percentage of the Nepalese population.
    • Adivasi societies are particularly prominent in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, and some north-eastern states, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
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