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India: conflict as locals occupy forest land in Gujarat
Conflict between forest-dwelling tribals and the forest department continues, most recently in a series of violent conflicts in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat in western India.
According to an article in Express India from Feburary 10th, forest dwellers have attacked forest guards and began clearing trees in a bid to occupy the land forcefully. The conflict has taken place around the Vajaypur village in the Dholavani range of Gandhinagar Forest, Sabarkantha district. Locals have occupied close to 100 hectares of dense forest and have begun clearing trees on the siezed lands, according to Forest Department.
Madhusudan Mistry, the Congress MP from Sabarkantha, has been leading a campaign to secure rights of tribal forest peoples over forest lands and traditional ownership of non-timber forest products. Mistry expressed surprise over the rescent developments, stating "there is no questions of new occupation of any forest land. I have been campaigning for the tribals' right over minor forest produce. So far as the new law is concerned, it is very clear and limits ownership of forestland...[to land occupied before] the cut off date of December 13, 2005."
The article in Express India is available here.
Posted By Colby Clabaugh at 10:05am on March 04, 2008
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