By L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh BJP has launched a massive campaign to win over tribals who constitute a significant portion of state’s population. Its defeat to the Congress in 2018 assembly polls was largely due to the fact that it won less than one third tribal seats compared to the Congress.
As part of its campaign, the BJP invited President Droupadi Murmu to launch several programmes which will go a long way to benefit tribals. The president was taken to tribal dominated areas where she enforced PESA. PESA legally recognizes the rights of tribal community to govern themselves through their own systems of self government and also acknowledges their traditional rights over natural resources. The act empowers gram sabha (village assemblies) to play a key role in approving development plans, controlling all social sectors. The act was drafted by a committee led by former MP Dilip Singh Bhuria in 1996.
The gazette notification issued by the Madhya Pradesh government on November 15 declaring promulgation of PESA Act in schedule areas provides for constitution of a ‘gram sabha’ for a village in the schedule area and more than 50% voters of a cluster of hamlets may propose constitution of a separate ‘gram sabha’ to the district administration. Every ‘gram sabha’ will act as an autonomous body and it will have an office in the area under the jurisdiction of the ‘gram sabha’.
Every ‘gram sabha’ will have a president who will be elected either unanimously or by a majority vote. He will remain on the post till the next ‘gram sabha’ meeting. He may be elected again but his tenure during the entire term of ‘gram sabha’ will not be more than a year. The secretary of gram panchayat will be ex-officio secretary of all ‘gram sabhas’ constituted under that ‘gram panchayat’.
The proposal; brought before the ‘gram sabha’ will be passed unanimously to the extent possible or by majority voice if unanimity is not possible.
Any person having objection to a proposal passed in the ‘gram sabha’ may raise the objection before the ‘gram sabha’ within 15 days after the proposal is passed.
A ‘gram sabha’ should have at least 1/4th of its total members or 100 whichever is less to meet.1/3rd of them would be women. But in the event of ‘gram sabha’ considering the issues of land acquisition, rehabilitation, return of lad or any issue concerning community asset, presence of 50% members of the ‘gram sabha’ would be necessary.
The Panchayat funds will be provided as per the provisions of section 66 of the MP Panchayat Raj & Gram Swaraj Act 1993.
The other features of the act are: management of upto 100 acre of irrigation ponds, collection of forest produce and determination of minimum price, the tribals will also do the work of plucking and selling tendu leaves, gram sabha to decide work under MNREGA fund. It will also check muster roll of the work and if the labourers are to be taken out of the village, then it must be informed, Only licensed moneylenders will be able to lend money at the fixed rate of interest. Information about it will have to be given to the gram sabha, New liquor shop can be opened only with the permission of the sabha and it can also recommend removal of any liquor shop, if an FIR is registered in a police station in a tribal area, it will have to be informed to the gram sabha. Gram sabha will have the right to inspect schools, health centres, anganwadi centres, ashram schools, hostels, gram sabha will also manage the fair and market.
In her speech president said that it is good that the act is being enforced in Madhya Pradesh as the state has the largest tribal population in the country. The President was happy to note that the Central and state governments have taken several steps for the development of tribal communities in the past few years. She said that the holistic national development and development of the tribal community are interlinked. Therefore efforts are being made to maintain identity of tribal communities, increase the sense of self pride among them and at the same time benefit them with the fruits of development. Development of tribal areas in the spirit of harmony is beneficial for all.
Addressing the huge gathering of tribals Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that according to the new rules of PESA Act gram sabha will have sweeping powers and will decide on tapping mineral resources and settle petty disputes in villages. Gram sabha will also decide whether to give contracts for sand
Congress president Kamal Nath pointed out that “the state that tops the country in atrocities against tribals, does not have the moral right to celebrate Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas”. “This state has not forgotten the incident of Nemavar in which an entire tribal family was heinously murdered and buried. The reality of BJP’s Janjatiya Diwas is that tribal women are subjected to maximum atrocities in the state” he said.
“PESA law has not been implemented in 20 years of Shivraj government. More than 1 lakh backlog posts are lying vacant in the state and the BJP government has shown no interest in filling them up. It is only engaged in misleading all the classes, including tribal society with lies, deceit and advertisements” Nath alleged. (IPA Service)