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VASUNDHARA - Democratising Natural Resources Governance

Tribal Rights :

Orissa is one of the poorest states in India, with an estimated 47% of its population living below the poverty line.  A regional and social group-wise analysis of poverty in Orissa highlights the fact that the tribal and forest dwelling population in tribal areas is comparatively much poorer than the population in plain areas, and that Scheduled Tribes are the poorest groups.  The main reason for perpetuation of such poverty among tribal groups is attributed to their lack of control over the land that is the major source of their livelihood.  Further, the situation in the tribal areas is critical as is evident by the fact that nearly two thirds of the land in these areas is held by the State, even though more than 60% of the households are either landless or marginal farmers.

There are a large number of processes through which tribals have lost access to land and forests essential for their survival and livelihoods.  These processes not only include alienation of land which is legally owned by the tribals through debt mortgaging and sale, but also loss of access to land through reservation of forests, loss of traditional shifting cultivation land through survey and settlement, displacement, unsuitable and unimplemented land reform laws, etc.  Over a period of time, all these processes have led to a loss of control and access to livelihood support systems, marginalization, and destitution of tribal communities.

Democracy, Equity, Social Justice and Ethical Development

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