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CHHATISGARH

Bill on legal sanction to rights of tribals soon: PM

Saturday 30 April 2005

Bhoramdev (Chattisgarh), April 30 (PTI): The Centre would soon introduce a bill in Parliament to give legal sanction to the "traditional rights" of tribals living in forests and devolve more responsibility to their village councils, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today.

"Tribals are known for peace and their love for nature. They are the closest friends of nature but many groups have seen nature only for exploitation. Many laws have been formulated which did not fully understand the standpoint of tribals," he said on a visit here to launch the pilot scheme of the national project for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies.

"To give legal sanction to traditional rights of those who live in forests and protection of forests and also to give responsibility to ’gram sabhas’, the Centre will soon bring a bill in Parliament," Singh said.

The Prime Minister expressed hope the new law would bring a "satisfactory solution" to long-pending problems of villages located in jungles and forest usage.

Singh said his Government was committed to the uplift of marginalised sections of society such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorites and women.

"Generation of employment is of prime importance in backward areas. We are also committed to providing educational opportunities for marginalised sections from school to college level," he said.

The Prime Minister said the national project for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies was being started from Chattisgarh because of their "economical and social importance" for the state.

"A ’Lok Jal Sangrakshan Abhiyan’ (public water conservation mission) is being given shape by the Government," he said.

Singh said the Government would also encourage the revival of the tradition to repair water bodies in Chattisgarh so that 50,000 of these were preserved.

"If this is done, the repeated problems of drought and destruction of crops in the State would be solved. The State Government should take full advantage of the help provided by the Centre in this regard," he said.

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