Amid fears of eviction, protecting forest rights of tribals to top Arjun Munda’s agenda

The Times of India | Ambika Pandit | June 2, 2019

A former three-time CM of Jharkhand and current MP from Khunti, Arjun Munda will lead the ministry of tribal affairs in the Modi government at a critical juncture.

The most important issue at hand involves establishing the exact number of rejected claims of land ownership of tribals and non-tribals under Forest Rights Act, 2006. The matter on eviction of rejected claims is scheduled to be heard in Supreme Court in July.

Another area that will need the minister’s urgent attention is the effective implementation of revised minimum support price regime for non-timber minor forest produce (MFP) in tribal belts. The ministry has to also focus on setting up Van Dhan Kendras for value addition to forest produce to increase the marketability of MFPs.

Both Jharkhand and Maharashtra go to polls this year. Both states have significant tribal population hence the new minister’s initiatives while implementing the many welfare schemes over the months will be closely watched by vote-banks in these belts.

The ministry of tribal affairs has put in place a plan in place listing out the issues to be taken up in the first 100 days. However, the minister who is expected to take charge on Monday is likely to spell out his priority list. Officials from the ministry met him at his residence on Friday and briefly introduced him to the work of the ministry.

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