Post News Network
Bhubaneswar, Oct 9: The state government has finally withdrawn its controversial decision to convert the Vana Surakshya Samitis (VSS) to Gram Sabha’s forest protection and management institution in the state, following the intervention of the Union ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA).
The state government, at its 8th State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) meeting July 21, had conferred the duties of Gram Sabhas on VSS. However, according to the MoTA’s guidelines, VSS are not eligible for availing community forest rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). MoTA has written to the state government clarifying that community forest rights may be conferred on Gram Sabhas but not VSS.
“The state government has arbitrarily decided that VSS will act as the management committees of FRA which is a sheer violation of rules,” said Manohar Chauhan, member of Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), a nongovernment organisation working for FRA in the state. MoTA also dismissed the decision taken by SLMC to appoint superintendents of police (SPs) or additional SPs as district level committee members and sub-divisional police as the sub-district level committee members as special invitees.
In its letter, MoTA directed Chief Secretary GC Pati to withdraw the decision taken in the recent SLMC meeting and withdraw any such instruction if communicated to the implementing officers in the field.