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Phulmuni Devi “The story of 60 years old tribal woman”

Phulmuni Devi, Wife of Ganesh Roy, 70, lives in Nipsi Titego village of Barmasia Panchayat with her husband and two sons. Ganesh Roy is the village headman of Nipsi Titego village. He is a literate person but his wife Phulmuni Devi is an illiterate female. However she has more interest in serving people of her village. When we came to know that Phulmuni Devi had more concern for the community development and takes care of all village affairs, we then approached her and with her support we formed CBO in the village and thus she became part of the project. Although she is illiterate nevertheless she is very active and supportive in every project activities.

There are 35 households in Nipsi Titego village and the total population of the village is 150. People in this village depend on agriculture and animal husbandry. They have been residing in this village from generations and everything was going smooth until enactment of Forest Right Act 2006. Since they were depended on forest land for agriculture and cattle pasture, it became difficult for them when they were prevented by the forest department to enter the forest area. The forest department constructed trench around the forest area and threatened the villagers to face the dare consequence in case they enter into the forest area. The villagers became hopeless as no place left for cattle pasture and for use as cremation ground. After CBO was formed in the village people were given training and information on Forest Right Act (FRA) 2006. They learnt that under the provision of FRA 2006 people who have been residing or cultivating in forest land over 75 year or for three generations they are entitled to the land right. Also villages have the authority to claim for community forest right on the forest land which come under their village territory.

After people became aware of the provisions of FRA 2006, Phulmuni Devi took initiative by her won and visited door to door and motivated people to come forward and claim for the community forest right. As her husband is the village headman, she made herself responsible and organised gramsabha and constituted Forest Right Committee (FRC) in the village. She also visited to neighbouring villages and motivated them to claim for community forest right.

As a result of her effort FRC was constituted and community forest right claim for 9.85 acres of land was made. Besides this 11 families also claimed for 4 acres of land under Individual Forest Right. The claims have been forwarded to the Sub Division Level Committee for approval. In all these process Phulmuni Devi has played a vital role, though she is an illiterate woman.