1. Home
  2. News

Baiga Tribal Community Receives Habitat Rights in Chhattisgarh

PVTGs, highly vulnerable indigenous groups, receive habitat rights under the Forest Rights Act, ensuring the protection of their land and culture.

Shivangi Rai
A total of 19 Baiga villages with a population of 6,483 people have been given habitat rights. (Photo: Freepik)
A total of 19 Baiga villages with a population of 6,483 people have been given habitat rights. (Photo: Freepik)

The Baiga Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) has been granted habitat rights in a significant development ahead of the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, making them the second PVTG community in the state to receive such rights after the Kamar PVTG.

This historic event took place in the Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi (GPM) district, where 19 Baiga villages with a population of 6,483 people, belonging to 2,085 families, were awarded habitat rights.

Habitat rights recognition is a crucial step that provides these indigenous communities with a range of rights over their customary territory, which includes their places of habitation, socio-cultural practices, economic and livelihood activities, intellectual knowledge of biodiversity and ecology, traditional wisdom regarding the use of natural resources, and the protection and conservation of their natural and cultural heritage. These rights are instrumental in safeguarding and promoting the traditional livelihood and ecological knowledge that has been passed down through generations.

Additionally, they help in coordinating various government schemes and initiatives from different departments, empowering PVTG communities to develop and protect their habitats.

Under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006, habitat rights are granted to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Specifically, these rights fall under section 3(1) (e) of the FRA, which includes community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities.

According to Section 2(h) of FRA, "Habitat includes the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes."

These habitat rights are a valuable tool for these communities to protect their habitats from any development activities that might be detrimental to them. While the rights granted are not in the nature of private property ownership, they require the consent and consultation of the gram sabha (local self-governing bodies) for any development activities in the designated habitat areas.

The Forest Rights Act provides legal protection under various laws, including the Forest Conservation Act, the Land Acquisition Law of 2013, and the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

In cases where development activities threaten their habitat rights, the concerned tribal group can address the issue with the administration under the Forest Rights Act and, if necessary, seek legal recourse.

Currently, only three PVTGs in India have been granted habitat rights. The Bharia PVTG in Madhya Pradesh was the first, followed by the Kamar tribe, and now the Baiga tribe in Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh is home to seven PVTGs, namely Kamar, Baiga, Pahadi Korba, Abujhmadiya, Birhor, Pando, and Bhujia, residing in 17 of the state's 33 districts.

While the first five tribes have received the PVTG designation from the central government, Pando and Bhujia have been given this status by the state government.

The total population of PVTG tribes in Chhattisgarh was 2.50 lakh, as per the 2015-2016 survey, while the tribal population in Chhattisgarh, according to the 2011 census, was 78.22 lakh.

The process of granting habitat rights to PVTGs in Chhattisgarh began in December 2021, with the Kamar tribe being the first to undergo this consultation. While this process is often long and challenging due to the introverted and reserved nature of PVTG communities, the successful pilot project with the Kamar tribe has paved the way for the process to proceed more efficiently.

As of now, 22 Para/Tola (hamlets) with a population of around 2,500 people from the Kamar tribe in the Magarlod sub-region of Dhamtari district have received habitat rights. Additionally, out of the 88,317 Baiga tribes in the state, 6,483 have been granted habitat rights, marking a significant step toward recognizing and preserving the cultural and ecological heritage of these vulnerable communities.

Take this quiz on World Meteorological Day to check your knowledge about meteorology! Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters