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District Level Workshop on FPIC organised in Bhawanipatna

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BhawanipatnaRegional Centre for Development Corporation(RCDC), a State based NGO working on Democratic forest governance and Forest Rights Act  with the support of Oxfam India organised district level workshop on “Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)” on last 30th Jan 2016 at Centre Park Hotel, Bhawanipatna. Around 50 community leaders, NGO workers and media persons participated in the workshop. The workshop was inaugurated by the Junagarh MLA, Dibya Shankar Mishra.

Welcoming the participants, Pravat Mishra, Programme Manager of RCDC shared the objective of the workshop. He said that FPIC is the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy or otherwise use. He further said  “FPIC has been accepted internationally and become important principle indigenous peoples.”

Addressing the participants of the workshop MLA Captain Dibya Shankar Mishra remembered the contribution of RendoMajhi, the tribal leader of the region who fought against the Britishers for independence. He said “the tribal are the indigenous people but lagging far behind in course of development. They have been looted and cheated by the mainstream people over the period and now they should be respected.” He promised the participants of the workshop to seriously work on FRA in the district.

Dillip Kumar Das, Chairman of the NGO Antyodaya joined the workshop as guest speaker and highlighted the various forest rights act implementation issues in the district. He said “there is serious lack of coordination amongst the line departments involved in the implementation of FRA and other tribal developmental programmes in the district. Besides, consistent misunderstanding at different Departments on FRA has led to confusions and   non-implementation of the pro tribals act in the district.

Sharing the FRA implementation issues in the district, Das said “while OTFDs have been allowed to filed IFR claims in other districts of the State, the SDLC did not allowed the OTFDs to even file their IFR clams in the district, most of the IFR titles issued in the district are without ground verification, there has been no progress in recognition of CFR rights in the district from last 2010 and Forest Department have been found playing negative role in the recognition of community forest rights in the district, etc.

Manohar Chauhan, Member, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) sharing his view on the FPIC said, this principle of FPIC means that those who wish to use the customary lands belonging to indigenous communities must enter into negotiations with indigenous people. It is the communities who have the right to decide whether they will agree to the project or not once they have a full and accurate understanding of the implications of the project on them and their customary land. Thus, FPIC is meant to allow for indigenous peoples to reach consensus and make decisions according to their customary systems of decision-making.”

He further said “for the first time in the Indian laws, the FPIC has got place in the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 in case of diversion of forest land for the non-forest purposes and in case of R&R and then the provision of FPIC has been accepted in the newly amended Land Acquisition Act, 2013.”

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