Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Forest Rights Act (FRA)
Mains level: Issue over forest dwelling rights
SC orders Expulsion
- The Supreme Court has ordered time-bound expulsion of all those families whose claims under the Forest Rights Act had been rejected by the authorities.
- The country-wide data on 1.89 million households comes from the November 2018 report compiled by the Union tribal affairs ministry.
- This is the total number of claims to forest lands that have been rejected under the Forest Rights Act across all 35 states and union territories.
Problems of OTFDs
- One of the major limitations of the FRA is the differentiated eligibility of ST and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) claimants.
- This is compounded by the ambiguity in the wording of the Act that has disadvantaged the latter severely.
- OTFDs are required to prove continuous residence or dependence in the areas being claimed for three generations (75 years).
- This dates back to a period when most of these areas were under princely states or zamindars, with no survey or land demarcation, and no government records.
- Thus, these equally deserving communities are unable to produce documentary evidence to support their claims.
Explained: Forest Rights Act (FRA)
- The legislation was passed in December 2006 by the UPA govt.
- It concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
- The Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the colonial forest laws.
- Eligibility to get rights under the Act is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” and who depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood.
- Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.
Various rights entitled
- Title Rights – Ownership to land that is cultivated by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family, meaning that no new lands are granted.
- Use Rights – To minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
- Relief and Development Rights – To rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
- Forest Management Rights – To protect forests and wildlife.
- The Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.
- This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.
- The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. These committees also hear appeals.