The lockdown to contain Covid19 outbreak announced on March 24, impacted a large section of the country’s marginalised and vulnerable population/s including tribal and forest communities. The 32 Adivasi families in Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Odisha, whose houses were demolished by the forest department on 24th April, 2020, remain without shelter and have been living under the open sky ever since, amidst the coronavirus threat.
GroundXero has earlier reported, how the Forest Dept. forcefully demolished the village, leaving the 32 Adivasi families homeless. The demolition was not only a violation of the COVID19 lockdown guidelines but was a grave criminal offence amounting to an atrocity under the SC ST PoA Act.
Some of the affected persons met the DFO and the Collector after the demolition. They promised to take immediate steps to solve the matter, but till now no action has been taken.
Suna Majhi, an evicted adivasi said,
We have no option but to remain here with the sky as our roof until the government fulfills our rightful demands”.
The Khandualmali hill range located in the forest inside Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary is a major bauxite deposit of Odisha. Companies like BHP Billion, L&T, Vedanta, etc. have been trying to obtain mining lease for it for years. The Adivasi people of the region have organised themselves under the banner of Khandualmali Suraksha Samiti and resisted these attempts. This has also led to widespread repression by the police, who have branded the movement as a Maoist backed insurgency, with at least three people having been killed in staged encounters (Nov. 2015).
The attitude of the government, both central and state, towards the adivasis and the forest-dwellers, can be gauged from the fact that the much hyped economic relief package of Rs. 20 lakh crores,announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in his long speech, found no mention of these communities, even though the 300 million adivasis and forest dwellers constitute a quarter of the country’s population.
Source : Video Republic