ADIVASIS under the joint banner of CPI(ML) and CPIM organized a rally and mass meeting at Araballi District (Modasa, Gujarat) HQ on 20 September 2019. The protest mobilized adivasis to hold the rally against the Modi government’s proposed pro-corporate Indian Forest Act-2019. This Act is a conspiracy to nullify the Forest Rights Act 2005 which the adivais had got after years of hard struggle.
If this Act is passed, Forest officials will get unlimited powers and adivasis will be subjected to even greater oppression. They will be deprived of forest products, and will not get access even to firewood, sal and tendu leaves; they will also be forbidden the use of fodder, with Rs 10,000 to 50,000 as fine for a first offence and up to Rs 100,000 for subsequent violations. They can also face Lock-up and Ranger Court proceedings. This is actually a conspiracy to deprive adivasis wholly of jal, jangal, jameen (water, forest, land) in addition to damage to the environment.
On the other hand, corporate houses are being handed over forest lands, wood, forest products and minerals at throwaway prices and they get free license to violate environmental laws.
The following demands were raised at the rally:
1. Implement Forest Rights Act 2005 fully
2. End the conspiracy to bring Indian Forest Act 2019
3. Stop handing over forests to corporate houses
4. Curb violation of environmental laws
The rally proceeded through Modasa Bazaar and the main roads of the city to culminate in a rally at the Town Hall. The meeting was addressed by CPI(ML) Polit Bureau member Prabhat Kumar, Gujarat in-charge Ranjan Ganguly, AICCTU leader and Sabarkanta District Secretary Dashrath Sinhali, Aravalli District Secretary Bhavan Bahi Pagi, and CPM State Secretary Pragji Bhai Bhabbhi, Aravalli District Secretary DR Yadav, and Sabarkanta District Secretary Purusatyam Parmar.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a delegation met the Araballi District Collector and submitted a memorandum demanding the protection of adivasis’ rights and addressing environment-related issues without delay.