Cong to launch campaign to highlight importance of FRA

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Bhubaneswar: Congress on Thursday accused the Centre and Odisha government of diluting the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and said it will launch a campaign in the state and elsewhere, to make tribals aware of their rights.

“Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will attend the campaign which aims to protest the attempts to dilute the FRA,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Prasad Harichandan said.

“A nine month long people’s campaign will be launched to highlight the importance of FRA, which is being diluted by both the Centre and Odisha government,” chairman of AICC’s Scheduled Caste department, K Raju said.

The programme would commemorate 10 years of FRA, which was brought in by the UPA government in 2006, he said, adding, the campaign, slated to conclude in Odisha in December, would go a long way in safeguarding the rights of tribals and other forest dwellers.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) has also decided to undertake activities for leadership development among people belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward communities, Raju said.

Harichandan accused the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the ruling BJD in Odisha of snatching away the rights of tribals to benefit industries and corporate giants.

He alleged that there was a nexus between the Narendra Modi government and Naveen Patnaik for taking away the powers of the Gram Sabhas by diluting the FRA.

The state Congress chief hoped the campaign would enable the party to reach out to the tribals who constitute its key support base for long.

The programme would highlight that FRA, implemented by UPA-I, endowed forest dwellers with right over the land they have been cultivating or residing in for generations.

Harichandan also hit out the state government for moving interlocutory application in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to conduct Gram Sabhas again for bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills in the Kalahandi district.

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