Indigenous Women of Eco-villages in Orissa Asserts their Rights
Normally the voice of the Poor and Hard core poor in particular indigenous people is not being heard by government departments, because after 66 years of independence India, still these excluded groups are struggling for their livelihood. The grass root democracy and empowerment process of Gram Sabha and Palli sabha is not well recognized and the planning process has not been operationalised thoroughly. The benefit packages of Government under different Acts are not reaching to the excluded and there is rampant exploitation of the programmes and schemes. To mitigate the challenges and address the problems, Orissa nari samaj (ONS) the federation of 54 tribal women’s organisations in Orissa, India rigorously did series of capacity building initiatives by which grass root level leaders generated and shows their strength/power to exercise over the illicit implementation system of government.
The tribal women formed labour union in each cluster of villages and created their own institutions to demand their entitlements.
Several times they met with Sub collector, District collector and Addl. District Magistrate, PA, ITDA and raised their issues and problems of non implementation in effective way of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Forest Right Act. But the departmental heads were not taking it seriously and avoided the situation. In this situation, the mob led by Orissa Nari Samaj along with representatives of district level and Block level labour federation assembled at District headquarter on 2nd December 2013.
Over 1000 and above male and female assembled at the district headquarter and contributed their labour and they borne their own travel expenditure. The rally started from District stadium and proceeded within the town area. Different slogans on different entitlement schemes and its failure to deliver was expressed and shouted by the mob, which provided a better environment for the participants to fight for their rights. After the rally they rushed to the District collector, Addl. District Magistrate in front of District collector’s office. The leaders raised their voice against all types of non cooperation of Revenue officials, OTFD issues, bribing system, harassment of government people, Non cooperation of Banking institutions, no effectiveness of Government programmes for PTGs, etc. One memorandum also was submitted to Collector which contains 50 Issues and problems on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Forest Right Act along with constructive suggestions. The mob started at 12 Noon and ended by 2.30 PM. The District collector gave assurance to take the memorandum seriously and all sorts of problems will be solved within 15 days. The strong voice of women leaders and PTGs are being influenced by the district administration. The Mass led by Ms. Jayanit Patro, Nari Rashmi Samaj, Kaincha Matia, Women Legal aid cell counselor, Basnati Murumu, Nari Unnati Samaj, Hemal Soren, Nari Jayasri Samaj, rushed to the collector’s office without and protection by police and government officials, presented the overall issues and problems of entitlement schemes and its failure before the district administration which was tremendous process of community empowerment by which the socially excluded groups/ communities asserted their rights and entitlements. The provoked mob seeing the spirit among them was thunderstruck by the district officials.