The Karnataka government is going to conduct a joint survey by Forests and Revenue Departments to find a solution to the over four-decade old problem of ‘de-reserving the forest land’.
Till the Forest (Conservation) Act was enacted in 1980, the State Government had the power to allot land for housing and agriculture purposes and also had the right to de-reserve such land.
The State government lost the power to de-reserve after 1980, resulting in a pile-up of thousands of such cases across the State.
There are many habitations that should have been technically de-reserved after the grant from the State.
In many cases, the land granted before 1980 in terms of rehabilitation or otherwise has not been de-reserved.
The de-reserving of forest land has been a huge problem for successive governments.
People living in houses built on such land or cultivating the land does not have the rights of mortgage or sale, though they have been living on the land before the Forest (Conservation) Act was implemented in 1980.
This is because Column 9 of the Records of Rights, Tenancy & Crops (RTC) will have the characteristic of the land in question as forest.
Provisions under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980:
Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for non-forest purpose:
No State Government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing -
that any reserved forest (within the meaning of the expression "reserved forest" in any law for the time being in force in that State) or any portion thereof, shall cease to be reserved;
that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose;
That any forest land or any portion thereof may be cleared of trees which have grown naturally in that land or portion, for the purpose of using it for reforestation].
For the purposes of this section "non-forest purpose" means the breaking up or clearing of any forest land or portion thereof for-
the cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil-bearing plants, horticulture crops or medicinal plants;
any purpose other than reforestation, but does not include any work relating or ancillary to conservation, development and management of forests and wild-life, namely, the establishment of check-posts, fire lines, wireless communications and construction of fencing, bridges and culverts, dams, waterholes, trench marks, boundary marks, pipelines or other like purposes].
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006:
The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 recognizes the rights of the forest dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources, on which these communities were dependent for a variety of needs, including livelihood, habitation and other socio-cultural needs.
The Act encompasses Rights of Self-cultivation and Habitation which are usually regarded as Individual rights; and Community Rights as Grazing, Fishing and access to Water bodies in forests, Habitat Rights for PVTGs, Traditional Seasonal Resource access of Nomadic and Pastoral community, access to biodiversity, community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge, recognition of traditional customary rights and right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource for sustainable use.
It also provides rights to allocation of forest land for developmental purposes to fulfil basic infrastructural needs of the community.
In conjunction with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Settlement Act, 2013 FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.