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Review implementation of forest rights

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Review implementation of forest rights:


Context:c

The ministry of environment (MoEFCC) and ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) have jointly issued a circular to chief secretaries of all states, giving the responsibility of implementing the Forest Rights Act 2006 to state governments.

  • The circular asks states to undertake a review of the implementation of the Act and intimate the Government of India about any clarifications that are needed to smoothen the process.

 

Areas of concern:

  1. Despite a considerable lapse of time since it came into force, the process of recognition of the rights of forest dwellers is yet to be completed.
  2. Operationalisation of section 5 of the Act is also an area of concern. Section 5 deals with the duties of recognised forest dwellers such as, protecting wildlife, forest and biodiversity; ensuring that catchments area, water sources and other ecological sensitive areas are adequately protected etc.
  3. Section 3(1) (i) of the Act provides for rights to protect, regenerate, conserve or manage any community forest resource but there is lax implementation of the provision.

 

About the Forest Rights Act:

The Act passed in 2006 grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities.

 

Rights under the Act:

Title rights – i.e. ownership – to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted.

Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.

Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.

Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife.

 

Eligibility criteria:

According to Section 2(c) of Forest Rights Act (FRA), to qualify as Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribe (FDST) and be eligible for recognition of rights under FRA, three conditions must be satisfied by the applicant/s, who could be “members or community”:

  1. Must be a Scheduled Tribe in the area where the right is claimed; and
  2. Primarily resided in forest or forests land prior to 13-12-2005; and
  3. Depend on the forest or forests land for bonafide livelihood needs.

 

And to qualify as Other Traditional Forest Dweller (OTFD) and be eligible for recognition of rights under FRA, two conditions need to be fulfilled:

  1. Primarily resided in forest or forests land for three generations (75 years) prior to 13-12-2005.
  2. Depend on the forest or forests land for bonafide livelihood needs.

 

Process of recognition of rights:

  1. The gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.
  2. This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.

The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. These committees also hear appeals.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know about Critical Wildlife Habitats which are defined under the Forest Rights Act, 2006? Read this

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who can include or exclude areas under 5th
  2. What are scheduled areas?
  3. Forest Rights Act- key provisions.
  4. Rights under this Act.
  5. Eligibility Criteria.
  6. Role of Gram Sabha in recognizing these rights
  7. What are Critical Wildlife Habitats?

Sources: the Hindu.