Tribal right activist, Jharkhand
I celebrated the enactment of the panchayatiraj with the hope that it would recognise tribal rights for self-governance. I was optimistic that it would protect our natural resources. But it has been a big disappointment. The promise of self-rule in tribal area is yet to be kept. Rather, government has been working hard to take away our rights.
For example, the panchayatiraj law for tribal areas (known as Panchayati Raj Extension to Scheduled Area Act, PESA). In the areas I work the general law is being applied thus defeating the purpose of the PESA. One after another all old laws that protect tribal rights and identity are being ignored. Panchayatiraj would have worked elsewhere but not in Jharkhand. Elections to panchayats took place in 2010 for the first time. That speaks a lot about government’s commitment to local governance.