FRA: Deadline gone, states yet to submit data on rejected claims to FSI

The Supreme Court had ordered states that had not given requisite data to the FSI by August 31

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Friday 06 September 2019
A forest. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

States are yet to submit data on claims rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 to the Forest Survey of India by August 31, 2019, as ordered by the Supreme Court, an official has told Down to Earth.

“States that have completed their review process, including West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, have given us the polygons of rejected claims under FRA. But since many states are still in the process of reviewing them, data from them is yet to come,” the official said on the condition of anonymity. 

The Supreme Court, while hearing the case against FRA in the Wildlife First vs the Union of India matter on August 6, had also ordered FSI to conduct a survey of rejected claims under FRA, detailing encroachments on forest land in its February 28, 2019, order.

“Some states have given polygons of the rejected claims which have been reviewed, but not of all rejected claims in the state. Almost all the states have sent us communication of their position,” the official said. 

In two meetings on March 6 and June 18, the states had told the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs that they had not followed many provisions of FRA in rejecting claims. The ministry had then advised states to carry out review of all the rejected claims. 

The FSI had submitted an affidavit in court before August 6, which said that it had surveyed around 6,400 geo-referenced polygons of rejected Individual Forest Rights  claims in four states — Odisha, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The FSI had used satellite imagery of these polygons ranging from 2005, 2009 to 2018-19.

The FSI had also said in its affidavit that with the current resources available to the organisation, it would take it 16 years to complete the process. 

“When the states have themselves said in their affidavits that they have not followed the provisions of FRA, how can the states give FSI data of rejections?” Giri Rao of Vasundhara, a Bhubaneswar-based non-profit working on FRA said. 

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