The latest status report of the FRA says most claims were rejected by either gram sabhas or district committees
In the last decade, tribal communities across the country have filed 4.21 million claims to acquire forest land under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). But, just 40 per cent or 1.74 million of them have been approved, says a status report compiled by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA).
The report, which has looked at data on land titles till August 31, says the highest number of claims were rejected or sent back either by the gram sabha or the district-level committee.
Under FRA, a claim, which is made by an individual or a community living in the forest, has to first go through the gram sabha, then a sub-divisional level committee and finally through the district-level committee. Once the district-level committee approves it, the title deeds are distributed.
Experts have criticised the performance of MoTA in implementing FRA. “Only 7,504.32 sq km of forest land has been recognised, while total forest land under occupation prior to 2005 was 1.12 lakh sq km. Only 6.67 per cent forest land has been recognised till the end of August this year against the countrywide potential of land rights recognition under FRA. MoTA has failed in executing its own responsibility for effective implementation of the Act, except issuance of the letters,” says Giri Rao of Vasundhara, a Bhubaneswar-based non-profit that works with tribal communities.
He also says that the ministry has failed to provide segregated information of Community Rights and Community Forest Resources rights under Section 3 (1) and Section 3(1)(i). “There is no information on conversion of forest villages into revenue villages. On July 31 last year, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, Minister of State, MoTA, told Parliament that there are 4,526 forest villages. Expect few, most of the states are yet to identify and follow the process as provided in the FRA to turn them into revenue villages,” he said.
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