"Lands / Rights – Acquisition & Compensation"

"Lands / Rights - Acquisition & Compensation"

by P.T. Choudary, Chairman IDEAz



Quotation for consideration:

  • “One economic study found that in order to save the 5,000 northern spotted owl from the threat of extinction, by keeping the environment untouched in a particular forest area in the US North West, costed US $466 bn (i.e, $9 mn per owl) in lost economic cost. Couldn’t another more cost effective solution be found?” - Anon.

Key Concepts:

  • For wealth to be created new sources of natural / mineral resources have to be located, extracted and utilized. It cannot be any one’s rational argument, in a country with an ever increasing population, to do without such resources.
  • Obviously such resources will mostly be found, in up to now largely unexplored / undeveloped regions, which are forested / coastal / environmentally undisturbed and are occupied by Tribals / Adivasis / Wild life.
  • Operations for extraction and beneficiation of such resources are by their very nature very disruptive of the environment and of the local population / wild life.
  • Hence ways must be found to do so with the least amount of such disruption and ensuring reclamation of the land to environmentally acceptable and wild life friendly standards once the extraction is over and more importantly, ways to suitably compensate the Tribals / Adivasis affected.
  • Should we allow the Tribals / Adivasis the right of informed choice or arrogate to ourselves the right to choose for them?

To believe that the Tribals / Adivasis are, only by virtue of living therein for generations, the best conservators of the Forest / Environment is to not know the history of others like them, of the Easter Islanders, Anasazis etc (refer “Collapse” by Jared Diamond). We should keep in mind that such people may be ignorant of modern life, but that they are quite capable of understanding the options, if properly informed about them, and making the choice best for them. They, and their culture, are not museum exhibits and no outsider should arrogate to himself the right to choose for them.

To think that they would continue to prefer to live as they do now, or asking them to choose without being able to make an informed choice, is again to not learn from history. (Eskimos and Papua New Guineans who went from the ‘Stone Age to the Jet Age’ in one generation in the 1950-60’s and the ‘Bushmen / Khoisan’ the aboriginal Hunter gatherers of South Africa, and the ‘Orang Asli’ the aboriginals in the primary forest of Malaysia – all more Ancient than most of our Adivasis / Tribals who are mainly those who have, in order to escape persecution, reverted back to forest living in the secondary or tertiary forests of India). People, even Adivasis / Tribals, need to have a population density high enough to sustain their culture. Declining isolated populations soon lose all their complex skills and regress into subsistence survival. This cannot be their choice. All such


Total votes: 0


May I compliment you on a paper that seems to me like a work of substantial insights on the Rights of Tribals over lands specially in the areas of their ancestral and traditional areas of settlements.There has been a great debate on the rights of tribals to choose what is good for lives, instead of the trickle down effects of ill- conceived Governmental intervention in their existance. The United Nations has been trying to protect the rights of the indigenous as opposed to the non- indigenous people in several countries of the world. It took them 20 years to come up with a Charter to protect the rights of indigenous peoples across the world. When the Charter was put to vote in the General Assembly of the UN, an overwhelming number of over 140 countries of the World voted for its adoption in 2007. Among the significant countries of histories less than 200 years like USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand voted against this Charter. It was with great reluctance that Australia and USA fell in line with the rest of the World. The main theme of the Charter was protection of the rights to their lands and also the right to live the life that they have been used to centuries before the onslaught of occupation by non - indigenous people. There have been very important devolopments since then. In Australia, in a land mark judgement of the court in Perth, had to concede a large area of land in Perth to the indigenous people of Australia mostly the aborginal people of Australia. The other most important content of UN Charter was not to force choices on the indigenous people but allow them to experience life as it unfolds and make their own choices. To put the issue in perspective in the Indian context, to my mind the Tribal should be made aware of his rights under the Constitution of India which provides for proportionate representation in all elected bodies, in the Civil Services and the like. It is a tragedy that even to this day there is no definite policy for development of Tribals, not withstanding the tribal sub-plans and ITDA's.The gory assault on a tribal girl in the Andamans, a result of Human Safari plans of the GOI Tourism Dept, left very bad taste. We should appreciate the work of Tourist Operators across India who resolved not to propose such Human Safaries. I agree that the tribal habitats are full of minerals, major and minor forest produce. The Tribal has been a subject of exploitation by the middlemen and cash rich corporates, thanks to the indifferent attitude of the policies and implementing agencies. Naxalism is a direct consequence of failed State interventions. I suspect the tribal now understands the game and tries to connive with yet another movement which may in the long run not be in his interest. Let Your organisation find solutions, The journey would be tough but worth a try.

Hi! Bala, Thanks for your incisive comments. The objective as you also noted, is to find a way to get development and yet be fair to the tribals.Please do read the other articles too.Best Wishes. P.T.
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