Friday, April 29, 2011
Report by Orissa Diary correspondent; Bhubaneswar:
Odisha-based civic group Water Initiatives Odisha hails Supreme Court Judgment on restoration of common lands.
Ranjan Panda, Convener, WIO just informed that the Honorable Supreme Court of India, in a historic judgment dated January 28, 2011 (order enclosed for your kind reference) have directed all the State Governments in the country that they should prepare schemes for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat/ Poramboke/ Shamlat land and these must be restored to the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat for the common use of villagers of the village. The Honorable Supreme Court has also directed that for this purpose the Chief Secretaries of all State Governments/Union Territories to do the needful, taking the help of other senior officers of the Governments and submit a compliance report by May 3, 2011.
Panda said, “as three months passed from the date of the judgment and only five days remain for the government to report to the honorable Apex Court, on 28th April, in a letter to the Principal Secretary-Water Resources of Govt. of Odisha, we have written urging upon the state government to see to the issues raised by this judgment and take appropriate action to free all water bodies of the state from all sorts of encroachments and ensure their protection and revival from the destructive forces including pollution from industries and urbanization”.
“Based on our experience working on revival of water harvesting structures and systems, we see a lot of hope in this historic judgment of the honorable apex court and hence have urged upon the state govt. to accelerate the efforts in the state to give the dying wisdom of our state a new lease of life and formulate a detailed strategy to revive the traditional water bodies so that they can once again prove to be vital socio-economic and ecological assets for the state and its people”, said Panda. According to him, “giving back the evicted common water bodies their ‘common’ status would also mean giving back the poor, landless and other backward and excluded communities their right of the common resources; as has been rightly emphasized by the honorable Supreme Court”.
Panda also informed that Water Initiatives Odisha has suggested the state government to take a few concrete steps like the following:
1.Make an assessment of the state of all common water bodies and their use by different sections of people;
2. Make an assessment of the state of pollution and encroachment level of these bodies;
3. Initiate an immediate drive to free these structures from eviction in line with the above cited judgment of the honorable Supreme Court;
4. Prepare an action plan for revival and strengthening of all these structures and systems, taking into confidence and consideration, all sections of the society including farmers, fishing communities, scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, other backward classes, landless labourers, civil society, technical institutions, academia, media and other concerned; and
5. Form a state level monitoring committee with involvement of all the above sections for regular monitoring of this drive.