West Bengal has rejected around 92 per cent of all the reviewed claims
Fourteen states rejected 543,432 claims under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, in suo motu reviews till February 24 this year:
West Bengal has rejected around 92 per cent of all the reviewed claims — 54,993 rejections out of 59,526 reviewed claims.
This information was shared by state governments with the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in a meeting held on February 24. The minutes of that meeting were uploaded by MoTA on its website on July 2.
On February 13, 2019, the Supreme Court had asked states to evict those claimants under FRA, whose applications had been rejected. The order was subsequently stayed by the court on February 28, at the intervention of the government.
In two meetings held on March 6 and June 18 last year, the states had told MoTA that they had not followed many provisions of FRA in rejecting claims.
MoTA had then advised states to carry out suo motu reviews of all the rejected claims.
Around 172,439 of the 1,419,259 claims that the states had decided to review, had been reviewed, the minutes of the February 24 meeting, said.
The discrepancy in the data — of more claims being rejected than those being reviewed — was because some states had not shared the data of the total reviews which they had already undertaken. Others had not shared the data on how many reviews they were supposed to undertake.
“The process is expected to take at least 12 months to be complete; till then, no claimant will be evicted,” Madhya Pradesh representatives told MoTA.
“The state government is using the Management Information System (MIS) to identify and review rejected claims. The state has also undertaken a number of training and capacity building programmes to train field staff and officers in using MIS as well as mobile applications for using cartosat images to determine validity of the claim,” they added.
Not all rejected claims, however, will lead to evictions as many have been rejected because of double entries.
“A total of 18,446 rejected claims are non-evitable claims due to following reasons: not in possession, double claims, duplicate claims, possession on other revenue land, claimant death, wrong entry, migration, etc,” Rajasthan told MoTA.
To know the consequences that eviction could have on claimants, states will undertake proper classification of finally rejected claims, leading to eviction on the basis of nature of land such as agricultural land or habitation / dwelling units.
States will also have to analyse the claims that may lead to eviction. This will help know whether the eviction process would affect one person of a family / household or would result in the eviction of a whole family.
FRA doesn’t say anything about eviction. Hence, it was decided in the meeting that, “An elaborate classification, depicting the nature of eviction that may take place is necessary and essential to ascertain that the entire process must not lose its humane face and not amount to any inhumane process at all.”
Even in the March meeting last year, the ministry had said the high rate of rejection of FRA claims in West Bengal exhibits, “flawed interpretation of the provisions of the Act.”
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