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Also called The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, FRA recognizes "the rights of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded". It aims at giving them "responsibility and authority for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance ... strengthening the conservation regime ... while ensuring food security".
Parliament passed the Act in December 2006 and notified it on December 31, 2007. FRA will ensure that tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers will have the legal right to own, collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce such as tendu leaves, herbs and medicinal plants. Timber is excluded from the list.
The Act is expected to "undo the historical injustice" done to scheduled tribes and other traditional forest-dwellers through previous laws such the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, which overnight made encroachers of people who have been dwelling in the forests for centuries.
The Act applies to those residing on forestland and forest villages or old habitation, un-surveyed villages and other villages in forests, including those not recorded and notified. All these will be converted to revenue villages under the provisions of the FRA.