Monday, October 05, 2009

Maldharis submit memo to Prez in Gir

Maldharis submit memo to Prez in Gir
Times of India

The Maldharis of Gir requested President Pratibha Patil on Friday that their right as permanent residents of the forest area should be restored. Pointing out that they are being harassed in the name of protecting Gir Sanctuary and national park, they said, as permanent residents of Gir for several centuries, all Maldharis, including those shifted out, should get right to inherit property and right to graze by issuing permanent passes.

Though recognized as tribals, many Maldharis have not been given necessary certificates despite repeated requests to the Gujarat government, a memorandum submitted to the president, who was on a lion safari in Gir forests, stated. While they are not being allowed their fundamental right to prosper in the forest, commercial interests are being allowed to mine out areas next to Gir, leading to destruction of forest ecology, it adds.

The memorandum was handed over to the president at Dudhada nes by a group of Maldharis led by Amrabhai Vecha, who also happens to head the Maldhari Sewa Samaj, an apex body of Maldharis living within and outside the forest area. "The Maldharis are being treated as enemies of Gir lion, which is travesty of truth. Lion is part of our tradition," the memorandum says.

It further states that the Maldhari families shifted out of Gir have been given poor quality of land which they cannot till. Besides, as traditional pastoralists, the government should have promoted animal husbandry activities. About 900 families have so far been shifted out of Gir forests in the name of protecting the forest, while about 500 families are still living within Gir in tens of hamlets.

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