Staff Reporter

Three-day State-level workshop conducted

Training programme for the participants recommended

State is home to 62 tribes and 13 of them are primitive

BHUBANESWAR: Ten years since the Orissa Government has adopted the Panchayat Extension of Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, several people’s representatives belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are yet to hear about it.

This came to the fore during a three-day State-level workshop on PESA Act and newly enacted Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Participant representatives exhibited their ignorance in the workshop

The workshop organised by SCs and STs Research Training Institute (SSRTI) dwelt upon implementation of Acts and gaps in policies and practices and operational issues. As the leaders of backward castes said they were not aware of these acts, it was recommended to organise training programmes for them. Some of these leaders wanted the acts to be translated into Oriya as well as their language. The State is home to 62 tribes and 13 of them are primitive. As many as 28 tribal groups speak different languages whereas only four of them have scripts.

Tribal scripts written in Oriya could be an effective tool to spread awareness about any welfare programme, SSRTI Director A. B. Ota said. To implement PESA Act, as many as 11 line departments should have to frame rules while a few of them have already framed the rules while rest were still on their job. SC, ST and OBC Minister Chaitanya Prasad Majhi and department secretary Tara Dutt underlined the need for spreading awareness among the representatives for proper

implementation of the Acts.

"The two Acts were very powerful. In PESA Act gram sabhas have been empowered to take a stand in issues relating to land acquisition, mining lease and displacement. Similarly, Forest Dwellers Act protects traditional tribal land rights," Mr. Ota said. Director of Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Project Deepak Mohanty said the state government was expected to take another three to four months to prepare guidelines on Forest Dwellers’ Act.