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Tribal outfits appeal PM to intervene in land grab cases

Tribal outfits affiliated to Left parties condemned govt`s move to "bypass" Forest Rights Act for acquiring land for large infrastructure projects.

New Delhi: Tribal outfits affiliated to the Left parties on Thursday condemned the government`s move to "bypass" the Forest Rights Act for acquiring land for large infrastructure projects.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, they alleged that the government has been engaged in "massive illegal grabbing of forest land".

It is continuing despite adverse comments by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, they said.

"Even the Minister of Tribal Affairs in your own government, Kishore Chandra Deo, has twice written letters to highlight this illegality," the outfits said.

The outfits include Adivasi Mahasabha of the CPI, the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch of the CPI(M) and the All India Kisan Mahasabha of the CPI(ML) Liberation.

Noting that the law requires that no land can be taken for a project without a certificate from the affected gram sabhas, they asked Singh to "uphold and strictly enforce the Forest Rights Act and the 2009 order of the Ministry of Environment and Forests for FRA compliance, ensuring that no forest land is taken without gram sabha consent".

"The alacrity with which your government seeks to serve the interests of land and resource grabbers, while dilly dallying and dragging its feet on protecting tribal rights, exposes the real character of the UPA government`s administration. We condemn this transparently corrupt, illegal and repressive move," the letter said.

The tribal outfits also appealed to the Prime Minister to launch criminal prosecution against "officials who have diverted or tried to divert forest land without respecting people`s rights" and withhold existing clearances for diversion of forest land.