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Forest Rights Act

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    28th Feb, 2019
  • In a significant development for tribals living in forests, the Supreme Court has asked 17 state governments to evict close to one million in forest areas, after their claim has been rejected.
  • The land ownership claims made by scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected on various grounds, including absence of proof that the land was in their possession for at least three generations.

Context

  • In a significant development for tribals living in forests, the Supreme Court has asked 17 state governments to evict close to one million in forest areas, after their claim has been rejected.
  • The land ownership claims made by scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected on various grounds, including absence of proof that the land was in their possession for at least three generations.

About

More on news

  • The court has asked the evictions to be carried out by July 12, 2019.
  • Supreme Court has also asked Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India to submit a satellite-image based report on the encroachments removed.

What does the Forest Rights Act do?

  • Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
  • Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.

Highlights of the Act

  • The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act seeks to recognise forest rights of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) who have been occupying the land before October 25, 1980 (or three generation till 2005).
  • An FDST nuclear family would be entitled to the land currently occupied subject to a maximum of 2.5 hectares. The land may be allocated in all forests including core areas of National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • In core areas, an FDST would be given provisional land rights for five years, within which period he would be relocated and compensated. If the relocation does not take place within five years, he gets permanent right over the land.
  • The Bill outlines 12 forest rights which include the right to live in the forest, to self cultivate, and to use minor forest produce. Activities such as hunting and trapping are prohibited

How are the rights recognised under the Act?

  • The Gram Sabha is empowered to initiate the process of determining the extent of forest rights that may be given to each eligible individual or family. It would then pass a resolution to that effect and forward a copy to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC).
  • The SDLC, which shall be constituted by the State Government, would examine the resolution passed by the Gram Sabha and prepare the record of forest rights.
  • It would then be forwarded to the District Level Committee (DLC) through the Sub-Divisional Officer for a final decision.
  • The DLC would be the final authority to approve the record of forest rights prepared by the SDLC.
  • If a person is not satisfied by the ruling of the Gram Sabha, he can file a petition to the SDLC who would consider and dispose of such petition.
  • If a person is not satisfied by the decision of the SDLC, he can petition to the DLC within 60 days of date of decision of the SDLC. The DLC’s decision would be final and binding.

                                                      Rights under the Forest Rights Act

    The Act delineates 12 rights of FDSTs over a variety of subjects including:

    1. living in the forest for habitation or for self cultivation for livelihood,
    2. community rights such as nistar∗ ,
    3. right to own, use or dispose of minor forest produce,
    4. conversion of forest village to revenue village,
    5. conversion of pattas or leases issued by any local authority or any state government on forest land to titles, and other traditional customary rights.
    • Customary rights exclude hunting, trapping or extracting body parts of any wild animal.
    • FDSTs also cannot indulge in any activity that adversely affects wild animals, forests and the biodiversity in the local area and need to ensure that adjoining catchments areas and water sources are adequately protected.
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