Shahdol (Madhya Pradesh), Nov 15 () The BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government on Monday implemented the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 in the state, which aims to preserve the tribal population from exploitation with an active involvement of the Gram Sabhas.
The PESA Act also gives special powers to the Gram Sabhas in Scheduled Areas especially for the management of natural resources.
The formal announcement was made by President Droupadi Murmu at a state organised event ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ which marks the birth anniversary of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda in Shahdol district.
The announcement was made in the presence of around one lakh tribal people, including women and youth, who had arrived here from different parts of the state to celebrate the occasion.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangu Bhai Patel, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan along with several tribal ministers from the state and the Centre were present on the occasion.
“This is my first visit to Madhya Pradesh where around 1.5 crore tirbal people live. I believe that the PESA Act will be used to empower the lives of tribal communities. We tribals live close to nature and we protect it also. Amid growing challenges of climate change and global warming, the role of tribals have become more important,” President Murmu said while addressing the gathering.
Lauded his party and the government for the implementation of PESA Act, Chouhan said it will give more constitutional rights to the tribal people to reap the benefits of natural resources from the forest areas where they live.
“I would like to make it clear that the PESA Act will be implemented in 89 tribal blocks of Madhya Pradesh, and it will not be applicable in the urban areas. The Act is aimed at empowering the rights of the tribals. It is not against anyone, so backward class and general class people do not need to fear it,” Chouhan added.
The Chief Minister said that a process has been initiated by the state government to give rights to the tribals in the jungle, land and water.
The Act will empower the Gram Sabhas to take decision on the rules and regulations with regard to all natural resources in the forest areas.
“Without the consent of the Gram Sabha, no decision on any project or dam can be taken in the specified areas. No will be able to snatch your (tribals’) lands,” Chouhan said.
The Chief Minister also pointed to the issue of religious conversions, which have become a serious matter in most tribal areas of the state.
“If someone goes to any tribal village now and wants take the villagers outside for work, he will have to first inform the Gram Sabha all kinds of details, as to why and where the villagers are being taken to. This will help provide necessary help to the villagers if they are faced with any kind of trouble,” Chouhan said.
Talking about the loan sharks, Chouhan said that no one can now lend money beyond the fixed interest rate. The money lenders will have to inform the Gram Sabha the interest in which money is given as loan to a certain person.
Also, the Gram Sabha will decide whether to allow opening of liquor shops in the tribal areas.
The Gram Sabha’s peace and dispute redressal committee will solve the small disputes. The police stations will have to inform the Gram Sabha about any FIR being registered against a tribal person.