Bhubaneswar: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will launch a nationwide campaign next month to highlight the significance of proper implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) to empower the tribals besides checking Maoist activities, party leader Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.
Rahul would launch the campaign in Vizag area of Andhra Pradesh on 6 August, while the second programme would be organised in Odisha likely in September, where effective implementation of FRA is essential, he said at a press meet in Bhubaneswar.
The awareness campaign would also be undertaken in a number of states including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Gujarat, Ramesh said.
"Effective implementation of FRA would go a long way in empowering the tribals and the forest dwellers and elevating their socio-economic status," the Congress leader said, adding it would also play a significant role in reducing Maoist activities.
Therefore, FRA needs to be properly implemented in a state like Odisha which has a sizeable tribal population and its 18 districts face Maoist menace, Ramesh said.
"However, BJD, which is in power in Odisha, appears to be in a mood to support Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill. If the Bill in its present form is passed in Parliament, Maoist activities will increase," he claimed.
Ramesh said Congress has moved several amendments on CAMPA as the bill in its present form is opposed to the FRA, and does not address the legal rights of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs).
The present bill also has no provision for consent of the Gram Sabhas for implementation of compensatory afforestation on their customary lands, he said.
Coming down heavily on the BJD government for "poor implementation" of FRA, Ramesh said only around 3.7 lakh land pattas have been distributed under the Act in Odisha since it came into force in 2006 as against over six lakh applications submitted for the purpose.
Similarly, only around 6,000 community rights pattas were given out of over 13,000 applications, he alleged.
Asserting that in about 30,000 out of the around 57,000 villages in Odisha, community forest rights can be conferred under FRA, Ramesh claimed only around 5,000 villages have so far been provided with this rights.