Mani Shankar Aiyar on PESA: Government's sheathed weapon
- “To avoid making this an issue of Centre-state relations, all the National Development Council (NDC) has to do is take up the unanimous report of the Empowered Sub-Committee on Panchayati Raj submitted all of two years ago to an unbelieving Planning Commission which has refused these last 24 months to even bring the report to the NDC, largely because a sceptical deputy chairman cannot bring himself to believe that state governments would willingly commit themselves to the report's conclusions!
- Moreover, PESA had provided that within a year — that is, or was, by December 1997! — all legislation not in conformity with PESA be amended to bring it in line with PESA provisions (in letter, of course, but also in spirit).
- This could broadly be interpreted to mean that the two principal colonial causes of tribal disaffection — the failure to recognise community propriety rights over land of tribal communities in the Indian Forests Act, 1927 and the many glaring oppressive features of the 19th century Land Acquisition Act — could and should be amended to bring them in line with the letter and spirit of PESA which stresses the role of the tribal community in matters affecting the land they live on and the duty of gram sabhas in Fifth Schedule areas to ensure that tribal land is not alienated except with their consent.
- While “consultation” with gram sabhas is mandatory only with regard to “minor” mineral and forest produce, the right to prevent alienation of tribal land without due consent clearly means that POSCO, NDMC and other corporate predators cannot make free with other people's property and certainly not in collaboration with state agencies, as is clearly happening.”