Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Tuesday said the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, which gives more power to gram sabhas, will ensure that conversions and marriages done by “alluring” tribal women to get land notified as tribal land is stopped.
Chouhan announced rules for enforcement of the Act in Madhya Pradesh at a programme in Lalpur village of Shahdol district. President Droupadi Murmu was present at the programme.
PESA gives special power to gram sabhas in scheduled areas, especially for the management of natural resources. It will allow self-governance through Gram Sabhas in 89 tribal blocks of the state, covering 2,350 villages in 5,212 panchayats.
“Many times by deception, trickery, marriages done by means of allurement to our tribal sisters’ daughters, land is given in their name and called tribal lands.. sometimes conversion is used. We will not let it happen in Madhya Pradesh. Gram sabhas will intervene when land is taken away from someone,” said Chouhan, while emphasising that conversions will not be allowed to happen in the state.
He said: “It’s our land and we will not allow anyone to take it away with trickery.”
PESA allows gram panchayats to decide matters related to minor forest produce, land and small water bodies along with implementation of government schemes and maintaining records of migrant labourers for curbing bonded labour in these scheduled areas.
President Murmu, who visited Madhya Pradesh for the first time, said that the state has the highest tribal population in the country and that the rules under PESA would help in the development of tribal communities.
“The development of tribal communities is crucial for the development of the country and the initiatives undertaken today are for the development of the country,” said President Murmu.
“Looking at the challenges of climate change and global warming, one needs to learn from the lifestyle of tribals and their commitment to conservation of forest should be a lesson for all,” said the President.
The event was also attended by Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel Faggan Singh Kulaste, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda, Governor Mangubhai Patel and state Forest Minister Vijay Shah, among others.
Chouhan also made it clear that initiative was not against any community, but aimed at empowering the tribal community.