Tribal people in Tamil Nadu and activists' groups staged Statewide blockades on various ghat roads and hill pathways that lead to habitations in hills and hill stations in Tamil Nadu on Monday demanding the immediate issuance of ‘pattas' to lands of tribal people and for ‘poromboke' lands, which are being tilled by tribal people for long and the implementation of the provisions of the Tribals and Traditional Dwellers Depending on Forest (Forest Rights Recognition) Act, 2006.

Police arrested a group of tribal people and activists of Thamilaga Adivasigal Amaippin Kootammaippu and Tamil Nadu Tribals' Federation for Fifth Schedule Campaign for staging a blockade on Salem-Yercaud road. “The agitation was successful as per the reports reaching here,” said activists.

A total of 36.5 per cent of tribal people in Tamil Nadu “have no landed property and those who possess lands are just marginal and small farmers. Even these lands are going out of our possession due to lack of proper legislations and non-tribals have been purchasing lands in hill areas. So, the lands are fast getting alienated from us,” said a tribal activist.

As pattas have not been issued to lands cultivated by tribal people, their livelihood had become a question mark. The Forest Department was vehemently opposing the Act and had been filing cases through the retired forest officers associations against the tribal people and traditional dwellers. They also got a stay order from Madras High Court against the implementation of the Act, which they insisted should be vacated.

They said that the government must notify immediately the areas in Tamil Nadu where tribal people live under the 5th Schedule. The Forest Rights Act must be implemented in total since it explained the right of lands of the tribal people. In order to declare the State, district, block and panchayat level forest rights organisations, which were involved in the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, the Panchayat-Level Forest Lands Rights Committee must be selected only with the consent of the gram sabhas. “Till the time of implementing the Forest Act, evacuating tribal people and traditional dwellers, living in and using the forest areas should be fully avoided,” they demanded.

The State must immediately grant 10 acres of lands to those living, dependent on forest under the Forest Lands Rights Act, 2006 and two acres under the Chief Minister's Free Land Allotment Scheme to the landless people living in the plains and should stop allotting forest lands for mining purposes.

Government Order No.1168/F.D., dated 27.4.84, which prohibits the issuance of patta to those who raise crops on poramboke lands in the hills should be scrapped and arrangements be made to issue pattas immediately, they demanded.

Keywords: tribal peoplepattas