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LG hands over Forest Rights certificates to members of tribal communities

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Says admin will work in mission mode for development of tribals

Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha Monday handed over individual and community rights certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar-Bakerwal, Gaddi-Sippi communities under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

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, Sinha 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.

Describing the occasion as “historic”, Sinha, according to an official press release, 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 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 here.

“The J&K 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.

“I want to assure that the UT administration is continuously working at different levels to protect the interests of Tribal people, including their land; full attention will be given to the maintenance of forests”, he added.

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 J&K 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.

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 Rs 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.

Sinha however, urged the tribal population in Jammu and Kashmir to also fulfill 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 LG 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 Rs 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.

Referring to his interaction with the delegation of Gujjar-Bakerwal and Gaddi-Sippi community, the LG said that development of tribal communities of J&K is among the top priorities of the government for which the administration has taken various unprecedented initiatives.

“This year, highest ever allocation of Rs 73 crore has been allocated for Cluster Tribal Model Village,” he added.

The LG also announced that 1500 mini sheep farms would be established for ensuring sustainable livelihood of tribal youth, 500 tribal youth will be selected for specialized skill development programmes including commercial pilots, for management, and robotics, etc.

He said that ‘Mission Youth’ along with Tribal Department has started the process of setting up 16 Milk Villages to connect at least 2000 youth to the dairy sector at the cost of Rs 16 crore, besides providing training, branding, marketing and transport facilities to the youth.

The LG said that besides giving scholarships worth Rs 30 crore to the tribal children, 42000 additional children will be provided with the scholarship this year.

“Provision of 1521 seasonal schools for migratory children, 2 residential schools on migration routes, 8,000 e-learning tablets for 7th & 8th-grade students and the salary of seasonal teachers has been increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000,” he added.

The LG said that the tribal communities will be getting rights over minor forest produce. The UT government in coordination with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) will establish infrastructure for collection, value addition, packaging, and distribution.

Farooq Khan, Advisor to LG, in his address, said the government is committed to protecting and preserving the rights of the tribal communities. He underscored the need for comprehensive measures for the development of the tribal population.

Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, termed the occasion as historic and called upon the members of the tribal communities to discharge their responsibilities to protect the forests.

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