Seven months after the union ministry of tribal affairs decided to rehabilitate the people who were internally displaced due to Maoist violence 15 years ago, the Chhattisgarh government has initiated the process for their identification.
Around 16,000 tribals (5,000 families) were uprooted from Chhattisgarh during 2004-05 when Naxal violence escalated in the state. Around 3,000 families moved to over 150 villages in the forests of the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Once identified and verified, the tribals will be eligible for their return and rehabilitation in the state under Forest Right Act (FRA) 2006. FRA grants land rights to all indigenous people who worked on their land till December 12, 2005. The union ministry of tribal affairs has also decided to rehabilitate the internally displaced tribals at alternative land to their original habitation, under an ain situ' provision under clause 3.1.m of the FRA.
Process of identification
In July this year, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) held a meeting of the official representatives of all the Naxal-hit states -- Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Odisha. Since Chhattisgarh is the most affected state by Maoist violence, the NCST asked the state government to complete its survey of internally displaced people in three months and submit its report.
"There are other technical issues as well but all of them will have to be addressed once we have the survey. We have begun the process and we will be conveying it to the Central government too."
However, the Bhupesh Bhagel government is yet to conduct a survey or submit its report. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, according to official sources, sent several reminders, the latest on December 20, asking it to immediately submit a report on the status of the survey.
Finally, in a letter sent on December 27, Chief minister Bhagel's office has asked the Telangana government headed by KC Rao to help it with the survey of its displaced tribals living in the state.
"We came to know that most displaced people have moved to Telangana. So we have sent a letter only to the Telangana government as of now," DD Kunjam, joint secretary of SC & ST development department in Raipur told IANS.
Kunjam said that the government had also directed the district revenue officials to conduct survey in Chhattisgarh.
The government, he said, is yet to figure out how to implement ain situ rehabilitation' under FRA. "There are other technical issues as well but all of them will have to be addressed once we have the survey. We have begun the process and we will be conveying it to the Central government too," he said.
The NSCT and the union ministry of tribal affairs had ordered the survey of the internally displaced people following an application filed by CGNet Swara Foundation, an NGO based in Raipur, headed by Shubhranshu Choudhary.
"The government has been thoughtful about the refugees who have come from the neighbouring countries. But we have refugees within the country and they are living in deplorable conditions. The government must expedite the process to rehabilitate the internally displaced people of Chhattisgarh," he told IANS.