Reality check

 
Last Updated: Sunday 28 June 2015

Reality check

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The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs' website talks of states making a lot of progress on implementation of the Act but the ground reality is quite different. Many states have just about started the process of forming committees. Some have even flouted the Act's provisions

Three-tier structure

Under the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA), the gram sabha has the authority to initiate the process of determining the nature and extent of individual and community forest rights (see box High points).

The tiers involved in the process are the forest rights committee (FRC), which is a body of the gram sabha, the sub-divisional level committee (SDLC) and the district level committee (DLC). First, the gram sabha selects an FRC, which receives claims from people. It then consolidates, verifies and prepares a map delineating the area of each recommended claim.The FRC then passes a resolution to that effect and forwards a copy to the SDLC. The SDLC hears and adjudicates disputes between gram sabhas on the nature and extent of any forest rights, petitions from persons, including state agencies, aggrieved by resolution of gram sabhas and prepares block- or tehsil-wise draft record of proposed forest rights after reconciliation of government records. It then sends the resolution to the DLC for further scrutiny, which approves the claims and records of forest rights and ensures that a certified copy of the record of forest rights is given to the claimant and the gram sabha. A state-level monitoring committee with the chief secretary as the chairperson looks into the proceedings at all stages. If an applicant is not satisfied, there is provision for him/her to file a petition in the next higher committee within 60 days. The decision of the DLC is final and binding on the petitioner. The petitioner cannot move the court for such cases.

High points

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A forest dweller belonging to the scheduled tribe can apply for land that s/he has occupied before December 13, 2005. For other traditional forest dwellers, patta will be given for land that they have occupied for three generations, or 75 years, before December 13, 2005

Two separate forms, for individual rights and community rights, exist, for which two documents of occupancy proof are required. Documents could range from ration card, voter's identity card, caste certificate to a challan by the forest department prior to December 13, 2005. A statement of an elderly in the village can also be taken as proof

Those who have land and are cultivating it themselves for a livelihood but do not have any document, can also claim land. Those with patta or a government lease, but whose land has been taken illegally by the forest department or is in a dispute between forest and revenue department, can claim such land

Community rights include nistar, traditional grazing grounds, irrigation systems, sources of water for human or livestock use, medicinal plant collection territories, remnants of structures built by the local community, sacred trees, groves and ponds or riverine areas, and burial or cremation grounds

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