Friday 7 April 2023

Will Egna Cleetus IAS give Justice to Caurem tribals?

Goa Governor yesterday has brought in young Ms. Egna Cleetus an officer of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of

2020 batch as Deputy Collector and SDO, Quepem with additional charge as Forest Settlement Officer (South). As SDO she has power over Police functioning.

This posting aquires significance in the light of mysterious disappearance of file containing Collective Forest Rights claims of Tribal people from Caurem village over management of village Forests including survey no.19 filed in 2016. File it appears has gone missing from the office of Deputy Collector at Quepem.

In the meanwhile Survey no.19 has been placed for public hearing to commence mining even without settlement of Forest Rights claims. 

Last Sunday Caurem-Pirla Panchayat Gram Sabha has opposed diversion of village Forest for mining or any other industrial activity. Gram Sabha has also called for implementation of collective Forest Rights claims pending before the office of Deputy Collector, Quepem. Local MLA Subhas Faldessai too has supported Caurem villagers claims at the Gram Sabha. 

Yesterday group of Caurem villagers along with Gawda, Kunbi, Velip Dhangar (GAKEVED) Federation has approached Goa Bench of Bombay High calling for implementation of Collective Forest Rights claims under Forest Rights Act 2006 and cancelation of Sceduled Public Hearing for April 11, 2023.

It is learnt that a mining company is actually behind this conspiracy as the file for diversion of 70.20 hectares of  land is listed on the website of Regional Office of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) based in Bangalore without consent and even without consulting Caurem villagers. This is colonial style of functioning with might is right jungle rule, predator-prey relationship. This has to stop now!

First task before Ms. Egna Cleetus is clear: locate the Caurem Forest Rights claims that has gone missing for past seven years. Second task if the file is not traced then to file FIR against those responsible for making it untraceable under section 8 and section 9 of Public Records Act 1993 Goa being annexed territory of the Central Government or under section 201 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) or any other law. Third task is to process the Collective Forest Rights claims of Caurem tribal people by making alternate arrangements.

People of Goa observe her conduct in all her roles at Quepem posting.

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