It was doing this as there had been no progress reported by states in recognising habitat rights despite its repeated clarifications
The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has brought back the Model Guidelines for Conservation, Management and sustainable use of Community Forest Resources (CFR Guideline) under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA), four years after it went into cold storage.
The ministry created a committee headed by NC Saxena, former member of the Planning Commission of India and of the National Advisory Council, to examine and recommend CFR Guidelines under FRA on February 21, 2020.
The CFR right under the FRA empowers Gram Sabhas to conserve and manage their forest.
“Gram Sabhas have rights to protect, regenerate, conserve or manage any community forest resource that they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use,” according to Section 3(1)(i) of the FRA.
The Gram Sabhas also have a monitoring and controlling role in the conservation and management of community forest resources so that they can be sustainably used for the benefit of forest-dwelling communities.
The guidelines, according to the MoTA order constituting the committee, will provide, “a clear understanding of the concept pertaining to CFR and also conceptual framework on CFR and detailed procedural aspects to encourage implementation of the community forest management and conservation regime in the spirit of the Act.”
In 2016, CFR guidelines were prepared by MoTA, in consultation with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). However, the guidelines faced criticism from various tribal organisations for being too technical.
MoTA also created two committees, headed by its former secretary Hrusikesh Panda along with the committee on CFR guidelines on February 21.
One of the committees will look into the recognition and vesting process of habitat rights of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) and the second will submit a report on the seasonal resource access to nomadic and pastoralist communities.
Under the FRA, habitat rights are given to PVTGs and pre-agriculture communities and it gives them access to the resources in the area recognised as their habitat. Despite repeated clarifications by the ministry, there had been no progress reported by states in recognising habitat rights, the order said.
Therefore, “it is felt that state governments need comprehensive and specific guidelines on the issue to overcome difficulties faced by them in the process of recognition of habitat rights as per FRA,” the order said.
All the committees have to submit their reports within three months.
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