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An uphill struggle to grow the Forest Rights Act

  • Published
    18th Dec, 2023

Context:

The challenges in implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA) focus on historical injustices, bureaucratic resistance, and unrealized potential.

FRA Objectives

  • Idea to give Rights: Colonial forest policies disrupted local traditions, leading to injustices.
  • Decentralization: FRA addresses historical wrongs, recognizing individual and community forest rights, and aiming for decentralized forest governance.

Distortions in FRA Implementation

  • Overlooked Tribal Rights: Politicians focus on individual rights, overlooking community forest rights.
  • Forest bureaucracy: It resists recognition of community rights, hindering the democratization of forest governance.
  • Non-recognition of community Rights: It benefits conservationists and development lobbies, making Protected Area communities vulnerable to displacement and exploitation.

Challenges in FRA Realization

  • Ground realities: FRA aims at sustainable livelihoods, but implementation face political opportunism and bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Forest governance: Without understanding FRA's intent, there's a risk of distorted rights recognition and undemocratic forest governance.

Judicial hurdles: Even the open-and-shut case of ‘forest villages’ has not been addressed in most States.

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