Din in House over PESA Act ‘violation’

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Assembly witnessed frequent adjournments today due to pandemonium over alleged violation of Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act for formation of Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) while a 12-hour bandh was observed in the steel city by tribals as a mark of protest.

The issue was raised as soon as the House assembled for Question Hour.

Two Congress law makers Prafulla Majhi and Jogesh Singh sat on dharna in the well of the house protesting against the alleged violation of the PESA Act, 1996.

They alleged that the State government had merged two gram panchayats in the newly formed RMC without consulting the tribal residents of the area.

They, however, withdrew their dharna at Speaker Niranjan Pujari’s request and allowed the house to function.

Congress legislators, however, again rushed to the well as soon as the Question Hour ended demanding exclusion of the two gram panchayats from RMC.

“The State government notification on the formation of RMC is a clear violation of the provisions of PESA. The government included the tribal panchayats without consulting the local people,” said Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati.

Senior Congress member Prafulla Majhi said, “As per provision, the government must take views of the tribal people before including their area under the RMC jurisdiction. They should conduct gram sabha and take people’s opinion whether they want to be part of the municipal corporation.”

Demanding a detailed debate on the matter, leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra alleged that the government used police force against tribals who opposed its notification indicating inclusion of two tribal dominated gram panchayats in the RMC area.

The government must stop the use of police force and arrest of innocent tribals who fight for protection of their Constitutional rights, he said.

The tribals of the area observed a 12-hour bandh during the day in Rourkela under the banner of ‘Mula Adivasi Milita Manch’ to press their demand of excluding the two gram panchayats.