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VASUNDHARA - Democratising Natural Resources Governance

Habitat Rights of PVTGs/Pre-agricultural Communities:

75 tribal groups have been categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands. Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) (earlier: Primitive tribal group) is a government of India classification created with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of certain communities with particularly low development indices.  

Most PVTGs (and other tribal groups/ castes) are divided into clans which are exogamous i.e. no marriages can happen between persons from the same clan as they are considered to be brothers and sisters. These clans draw their identity from certain geographical locations which often house their deities or from certain natural entities which may include plants and wildlife. It is important to mention here that all rituals, social and cultural activities and events of PVTGs are deeply connected with forests and other elements of nature. This may include sites of their agro forestry based ancestral farming practices (referred to as podu, bewar, dongarchas etc. in local parlance), areas from where items are gathered and extracted from forests, sites for gathering medicinal plants etc. Their religious rights over such geographical locations need recognition, their right to protect and conserve such natural entities (as enshrined in their clan beliefs practices and behaviour) needs recognition and such places of their religious and spiritual importance (irrespective of their geographical distance from their actual settlement) should be granted protection from any action that might lead to their any modification or destruction of such place in part or full. As a part of their habitat rights, it is imperative that while rights over existing cultural sites and the right to organise them as per their beliefs and customs need recognition, the right to decide and identify newer sites within their habitat for holding their rituals/ cultural events in future would also require recognition. The Habitat Rights recognizes their all such rights relating to their social, cultural, ecological, economic and demographic parameters through a process of involving their traditional institutions as the primary part recognition process.  

We work in different districts of Odisha for recognition of Habitat Rights. Our current work on Habitat Rights is majorly done through the support of the local organizations located in respective PVTG areas. At present we work with the PVTGs like Hill Khadia, Mankirdia, Paodi Bhuyan, Bonda, Didayi, Kutia Kondh, Juanga out of the 13 PVTGs of Odisha. Our team works in different districts of Odisha with CSOs and administrations to support the PVTG communities in filing claims for their habitat rights. We work for the capacity building of these stakeholders through training, workshops and orientation programs to build their knowledge to facilitate the process on ground. We extend technical support for carrying out its effective implementation. Our team works for developing training manuals, IEC materials, posters, pamphlets and other learning documents to build the knowledge of above stakeholders.  


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