Only 16 per cent of potential community forest rights granted in Kerala

Of the 779 community claims, including CFR, passed by the gram sabha, only 328 have been cleared by the District Level Committee, shows a report by a local non-profit

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Wednesday 29 November 2017
In Thrissur district, 62 community claims were cleared in 2012 by the District Level Committee, but only 21 land titles have been given so far. Picture for representation purpose. Credit: Jemima Rohekar/CSE

More than a decade after the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) was passed, only 16 per cent of the total potential of Community Forest Rights (CFR) and Community Rights (CR) in Kerala have been granted, shows a recent report by a local non-profit, Community Forest Rights Learning and Advocacy.

“A total of 779 community claims, including CFR claims were passed by the gram sabha, of which only 328 have been cleared by the District Level Committee and only 164 titles have been issued so far," said the report.

Highly critical of the process of FRA implementation, the report, Promise and Performance of Forest Rights Act, 2006: Kerala State Report, says that communities have not been able to assert or practice their provisions of the IFR, CR and CFR completely in areas in which titles were distributed. “The management of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) and CFR are being handled by agencies other than FRA Grama Sabhas till date,” it added.

Under the FRA, gram sabhas have the authority to manage MFP and CFR.

KH Amitha Bachan, author of the report told Down To Earth that there are problems with the CFR grants too. “In many areas, of the 126 CFR granted, only 2 to 40 acres of land have been given. But our map in Thrissur district found that the traditional area used for gathering resources by communities is 4,000 hectares to 40,000 hectares,” he said. Although 62 claims were cleared in 2012 by the District Level Committee, only 21 land titles have been given so far. The remaining land titles have not been given as the Divisional Forest Officer hasn’t signed the papers, according to Bachan.      

The report also found discrepancies in the data of the Kerala Forest Department when compared to the Census. According to the Census 2011, Kerala Scheduled Tribes constitute about 1.45 per cent of the total population, and 1, 07,965 families are spread in 4,762 habitations.

However, the state Forest Department data says only 28,794 tribal families exist in the forest area within 780 tribal settlements. This covers 219.62 sq km (1.94 per cent) forests. There are lot of anomalies in the data provided by Kerala Forest Department on the number of tribal families, settlements and the area owned by the forest settlements, according to the report. 

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