Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

SC eviction order likely to impact 1.89 mn forest families


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

  1. One of the major limitations of the FRA is the differentiated eligibility of ST and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) claimants.
  2. This is compounded by the ambiguity in the wording of the Act that has disadvantaged the latter severely.
  3. OTFDs are required to prove continuous residence or dependence in the areas being claimed for three generations (75 years).
  4. 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.
  5. Thus, these equally deserving communities are unable to produce documentary evidence to support their claims.

Explained: Forest Rights Act (FRA)

  1. The legislation was passed in December 2006 by the UPA govt.
  2. 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.
  3. The Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the colonial forest laws.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Use Rights – To minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  3. Relief and Development Rights – To rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
  4. Forest Management Rights – To protect forests and wildlife.

Agencies Involved

  1. The Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.
  2. This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.
  3. 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.
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