Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday said the administration is working continuously at different levels to safeguard the rights of tribals and will work in a mission mode for their development and betterment.
The LG was speaking at a ceremony for implementation of the ‘Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights Act)’ in J&K where he handed over individual and community right certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar-Bakerwal and Gaddi-Sippi communities.
Describing the occasion as “historic”, Mr. Sinha expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making it possible to implement the Act in the Union Territory and said the move will usher in a new era of empowerment and prosperity for the deprived tribal population here.
“I thank the PM Modi because of whom on December 1, 2020, we implemented the Forest Rights Act. Before 2019, many Central laws were not implemented in Srinagar.
“The Jammu & Kashmir administration, especially the Forest Department and the Tribal Affairs Department, has started the endeavour to do something for the development of these communities,” he said.
The LG said about 20,000 applications were received and while several people have been given the certificates, all those eligible will be given the rights.
“Apart from the Forest Rights Act, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has programmes for their education and health, and I am satisfied that we will be successful in joining the community with the mainstream,” he said.
“It is not just the Forest Rights Act that has been implemented, but I want to tell you that you will also get job reservations and political reservations,” he added.
Mr. Sinha said the tribals in J&K had waited for a long time for their rights.
“It has been a long time. Your emotions were played with, you were used as a vote bank, but no care was taken about your needs.
“It is not a political issue for me, but when I came here from Delhi, the PM told me two-three important things, one of which was to ensure the total implementation of the Forest Rights Act with honesty and giving rights to everyone. I can say today that it is a good start,” he said.
He said the UT administration is continuously working at different levels to safeguard rights of tribals.
“In the areas where community rights are being given, an amount of ₹10 crore will be provided immediately for the development of infrastructure in those areas,” he said.
He said forests and tribals have co-existed for generations and empowering the tribal community through the Forest Rights Act will certainly change the condition of their lives.
“They will become self-reliant with access to resources for their development,” he added.
He asked the officials to keep in mind that only those eligible get the rights.
Mr. Sinha however, urged the tribal population in Jammu and Kashmir to also fulfil their responsibility to protect the wildlife, protect the forests like a member of their family and maintain the biodiversity.
The LG said the current administration in J&K has taken it upon itself to realise the dreams of the tribal community and “we will do whatever has to be done in a mission mode for their development and betterment”.
“I think to empower the tribals is a more sacred job than to pray in any mosque or temple,” he said.
The Lt. Governor also announced that hostels for tribal boys and girls will be built in every district and their culture will be promoted.
“We have also decided to construct transit accommodations for tribals at eight places at the cost of ₹28 crore. More such accommodations will be built in the future. Every transit accommodation can accommodate 150-200 people and a special mechanism will be built to keep their animals as well,” he said.