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Paudi Bhuyan Community of Odisha gets Habitat Rights under the FRA

Bhubaneswar: Recognizing and preserving indigenous cultures, the Odisha government awarded Habitat Rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) to 32 villages of the Paudi Bhuyan community in Deogarh district. This significant milestone under the Mo Jungle Jami Yojana (MJJM) was marked by a ceremony where Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena handed over the Habitat Rights titles to community leaders at the Lok Seva Bhawan in Bhubaneswar.

“This is a historic moment for the Paudi Bhuyan community and for the state of Odisha,” remarked Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena. “Granting Habitat Rights not only recognizes their traditional connection to the land but also reaffirms our commitment to empower indigenous communities and protect their cultural heritage.”

The Paudi Bhuyan community, classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), is the first indigenous group from Odisha to receive Habitat Rights under the FRA.

“This achievement is a testament to the resilience and perseverance of the Paudi Bhuyan community,” stated Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the ST&SC Development, Minorities, and Backward Classes Welfare Department, Roopa Roshan Sahoo. “It marks a significant step towards securing their livelihoods and preserving their cultural identity,” she added.

Members of the Paudi Bhuyan community expressed their gratitude and optimism for the future. Chendali Pradhan, a priest from Pacheripani village, stated, “With Habitat Rights, we can now access forest resources and contribute to our community’s economic development.” Tela Pradhan, president of the forest rights committee in Saranaput village, added, “This recognition will enhance our livelihood opportunities and ensure the preservation of our cultural traditions.”

The Habitat Rights claim of the Paudi Bhuyan community underwent a thorough review process, culminating in approval by the sub-divisional level committee and district-level committee in Deogarh. “The granting of Habitat Rights underscores the government’s commitment to tribal welfare and sustainable forest management,” emphasized Deogarh District Collector Somesh Upadhyay. “It will protect their territorial habitat and cultural heritage while promoting their holistic development.”

Recognizing the unique knowledge of tribal communities in natural resource management, Divisional Forest Officer Magar Dhanaji Raoso stated, “Granting Habitat Rights facilitates the preservation of biodiversity and promotes sustainable resource management.”

“This achievement is a testament to the socio-economic-cultural identity of Paudi Bhuyans,” remarked FRA expert Arabinda Rout. “It acknowledges their territory and traditions, providing a foundation for their holistic development.”

Tela Pradhan, president of the forest rights committee (FRC) of Saranaput village, expressed optimism about the positive impact of the Habitat Rights on the community’s overall well-being, while Tikeswar Nayak from Gurusang village envisioned opportunities for the development of religious sites across the 32 villages.

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