Alleging arbitrary cancellation of applications for land rights under the Forest Rights Act by the administration, over 2,000 tribals began an indefinite dharna in front of the Collector’s office at Chhatrapur in Odisha’s Ganjam district on Monday.
They alleged that of the total rejected applications, the highest number was from Ganjam, around 50% of total rejections in the State. The protesters were united by four organisations — All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha, Ganjam Zilla Adivasi Manch and Ganjam Zilla Gramsabha Samukhya.
The protesters have a list of nine demands which are mostly related to land rights of forest dwellers.
According to the protesters, 13,851 applications were cancelled by the State administration. Of these, 6,613 are from Ganjam district — 3,346 of tribals and 2,967 of other forest dwellers. AIKMS national secretary Bhala Chandra Sarangi alleged that the administration has not given any reason for cancellation.
“We demand all cancelled applications be returned for scrutiny and verification by the gramsabhas. Administration should accept the applications which will be approved by the gramsabhas,” said GZGS leader Bijay Kumar Swain.