Baiga Tribes get Habitat rights in Chattisgarh

Baiga Tribes get Habitat rights in Chattisgarh

News: The Baiga Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) became the second to get habitat rights in Chhattisgarh, after the Kamar PVTG.

What are PVTG’s?
• The PVTGs are the marginalized section of the Scheduled tribes of India. They are a section who are relatively isolated, educationally and socio-economically backward, living in a habitat far away from amenities.
• It is a government of India classification created with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of certain communities with particularly low development

What are the criteria followed for determination of PVTG’s?
• A pre-agriculture level of technology;
• A stagnant or declining population;
• Extremely low literacy; and
• A subsistence level of economy.

About Baiga PVTG:
• The Baiga are an ethnic group found in central India primarily in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and in smaller numbers in the surrounding states of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
• The largest number of Baiga is found in Baiga-chuk in Mandla district and Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh.
• They practice a form of shifting cultivation called, 'Bewar.'
• Mahua is an important aspect of Baiga's food and drink. It is an intoxicant prepared from the fermentation and distillation of the flowers of the Mahua tree.
• Tattooing is an integral part of Baiga culture, every age and body part has a specific tattoo reserved for the occasion. The tattoo art by women of the Baiga Tribe is known as ‘Godna’ This art form instills a sense of pride among the women.

What is Habitat?
• According to Section 2(h) of Forest Rights Act(FRA): “Habitat includes the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and preagricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes”.

What are Habitat rights?
• Habitat rights are a form of recognition that grants a community certain rights and control over their traditional living areas, cultural practices, economic activities, ecological knowledge, and natural resources.
• These rights protect and support the community’s traditional ways of life and ecological wisdom passed down through generations.
• They also help converge different government schemes and initiatives from various departments to empower PVTG communities to develop their habitats.
• Habitat rights are given to PVTGs under section 3(1) (e) of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

Significance of Habitat rights as a protective measure
• Legal Safeguards - Habitat rights serve as an additional layer of legal protection against activities that may harm the habitat or livelihood of PVTGs.
• Administrative Resolution - If developmental activities threaten habitat rights, the tribal community can raise the issue with the administration under the Forest Rights Act, potentially seeking legal recourse.
• The habitat rights title may not be an ownership title in the nature of a private property owner, but consent and consultation of the gram sabha will be needed for any developmental activity.

Which states have granted habitat rights?
• Out of 75 PVTG in India, only three have habitat rights. The Bharia PVTG in Madhya Pradesh was the first, followed by the Kamar tribe and now the Baiga tribe in Chhattisgarh.

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