Odisha government should seek more time from Supreme Court to complete the process of reviewing individual forest right (IFR) claims rejected under Forest Right Act, demanded tribal rights activists.Stating that IFR claims were rejected on frivolous grounds and due processes were not followed to review rejections, Campaign for Survival Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a forum which advocates rights of forest dwellers on forests, said gram sabhas should be empowered to prepare records, evidence afresh and submit the IFR claims.“The Supreme Court stay order on February 28 gave temporary relief to thousands of forest dwellers. However, the February 13th eviction order is still hanging over head of the lakhs of tribal and forest dwellers. Forest inhabitants whose applications have been rejected are facing an uncertain future,” said Gopinath Majhi, State convenor of CSD.“The IFR applicants have not been informed about rejection of their applications. About 51251 IFR claims have been shown rejected on the ground of lack sufficient evidence against the IFR claims in Odisha. We are of the view that let all these rejected IFR claims be sent back to the IFR claimants through the concern gram sabhas. They should be provided opportunity to submit application afresh with the required documents or evidence,” Mr. Majhi pointed out.He said 974 IFR applications were rejected due to incomplete application and forest dwellers should be deprived of their rights for their ignorance. Moreover, IFR claims were arbitrarily rejected by the officials at the sub divisional level committees.“Similarly, one of the reasons for rejection pointed out by SDLC is – land claimed is not forestland – in case of 32171 IFR claims. If the claimed land was not verified properly on the ground, how come the SDLCs and district level committees (DLCs) could know the category of the land claimed under IFR,” Mr. Majhi argued.The CSD said the huge procedural goof up made in past 10 years cannot be rectified in a month or two. It demanded all rejected IFR claims be sent back to concerned gram sabhas for carrying out demarcation of the claimed forestland afresh.The Supreme Court is set to resume hearings on the FRA on July 24.
Amid concern over the hefty fines for traffic violations, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said even he has been fined for speeding on the Bandra-Worli sealink in Mumbai. Talking to reporters about the major decisions of the Modi-led government in its first 100 days, Mr. Gadkari said abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir was the “most important achievement” of the government. Criminalisation of instant triple talaq and the amended motor vehicles law were some of the big achievements of the Centre, he said.“Even I have paid a fine for speeding on the Bandra-Worli sealink,” Mr. Gadkari said adding that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his cabinet collegaue Gen V.K. Singh also got speeding challans. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, approved by President Ram Nath Kovind last month, aims at stricter punishment for violation of traffic regulations and to bring discipline on roads.“Passing the MV Act amendment is a big achievement for our government. The high fines will lead to transparency, and (will) not result in corruption,” Mr. Gadkari said.Claiming that overspending on fines has helped people to adhere to traffic rules, Mr. Gadkari said: “For the new over speeding rules all are equal be it lawyers, doctors or politicians. We have increased the fines to save lives of lakhs of motorists.” The minister said road engineering is a reason, along with auto engineering, for the high incidents of accidents in India.Amendment of MV Act will improve road safety and reduce the number of road accidents and lives lost on roads, Mr. Gadkari said.