Arjun Munda plans Schedule V states' meet on FRA

Conference aims at creating awareness about provisions of Forest Rights Act: Tribal Affairs ministry

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Monday 09 December 2019
Arjun Munda. Photo: @MundaArjun / Twitter

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda has asked the chief secretaries of all Schedule V states — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana — to organise a one-day state-level conference and create awareness about the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA).

“The state governments are responsible for the effective implementation of this Act (FRA). In order to achieve this objective, it is also necessary that the filed functionaries involved in the implementation of the Act are fully aware of the provisions of the Act and the rules thereunder," the letter sent to the chief secretaries on November 20, 2019, by Deepak Khandekar, secretary, Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs (MoTA), said.

"For this purpose, there is need for intensive awareness-generation programmes to be conducted at all levels of implementation of the Act, especially involving the members of Gram Sabha,” the letter added.

The conference will include Panchayat Pramukh/Sarpanch, village headman under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA) and forest officers at the level of divisional forest officer, sub-divisional forest officer and range officer. The minister would address the conference, the letter says.

This decision of the minister comes after he raised concerns about the procedural lapses in the implementation of FRA in a letter written to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel on September 19.

“It has been observed that the procedure being followed at the Gram Sabha/Forest Rights Committee level for scrutiny/examination of forest rights claims submitted by Schedule Tribes/Other Traditional Forest Dwellers has not been fully correct and according to the Act/Rules provisions in large number of cases. This is indicative of lack of awareness among the functionaries about the Rules and procedures thereunder,” the letter said, adding that there was a need for awareness generation and capacity building.

Interestingly, in a meeting of MoTA and the states in March this year, many states acknowledged that the provisions of FRA have not been followed in rejecting the claims. In the meeting, it was decided that the states would review all the rejections made under the Act.   

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