Odisha tribal department writes to collectors on FRA rejected claim review

The letter gives detailed instructions to district collectors about how to take up appeals and reviews of all rejected Individual Forest Right claims under FRA

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Wednesday 01 May 2019
Photo: Agnimirh Basu/CSE
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Ahead of the next Supreme Court hearing on the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) and the eviction of those whose claims have been rejected on July 10, the Odisha ST and SC, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department has written to all the district collectors regarding the review of rejected claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA).  

In the letter dated April 29, the department’s Commissioner-cum-Secretary, R Raghu Prasad has given the collectors detailed instructions about how to take up appeals and reviews of all rejected Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims under FRA.

“The reviews of the rejected claims are to be under taken on a 'Mission mode' at the appellate levels, by the Sub-Divisional Committee (SDLC) chaired by the Sub-Collector and the District-Level Committee (DLC) chaired by the Collector,” Prasad said in his letter.

The letter contains step wise details about how to review claims rejected by the Gram Sabha-Level Committee (GSLC), SDLC and the DLC.

“In cases of claims rejected at the Gram Sabha level, fresh verifications by the Forest Rights Committee should be undertaken, wherever required, by the respective Forest Rights Committee,” the letter said.

According to the department’s December 2018 data on the implementation of FRA, of the 6,12,693 IFR claims filed at the GSLC, 4,35,377 have been approved.

“You are requested to look into the matter on priority and ensure that the SDLC and DLC reviews each rejected claim, by giving ample scope to the claimant for being heard, as per the provisions of the FRA and rules. It is again reiterated that the review process should be completed and compliance submitted to this department, so that the matter can be filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court,” the letter emphasised.

The apex court, while hearing a petition on February 13, 2019 by wildlife organisations and retired forest officials against the Forest Rights Act (FRA), asked authorities of  21 states to file affidavits explaining why evictions, wherever ordered, have not taken place. The court had later put a stay on this order after the Union government moved a petition on February 27, 2019 seeking a stay on the order.

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