Forest Rights Act
Social Justice > Government Policies > Tribal affairs
Why in news?
- After a long delay, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which will elevate the socio-economic status of a sizeable section of the 14-lakh-strong population of tribals and nomadic communities, including Gujjar-Bakerwals and Gaddi-Sippis, in the Union Territory.
Rationale behind Forest Rights Act:
- Several Acts and policies such as the Indian Forest Acts of 1865, 1894 and 1927 of Central Government and some state forest Acts curtailed centuries old, customary use rights of local communities lived in and around forests
- This continued even after independence
- Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between tribal people and forests, the National Forest Policy, 1988, made provisions to safeguard the customary rights and interests on forest land of tribals.
- The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, also known as Forest Rights Act was drafted to fulfill the need for a comprehensive legislation to give due recognition to the forest rights of tribal communities.
Salient provisions of the Forest Rights Act:
- The Act seeks to recognize and vest forest rights in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDSTs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) with respect to forest land and their habitat.
- The rights can be inherited but they are not transferable.
- The Act vests two broad types of rights to forestland with forest-dwelling communities - individual forest rights (IFR) and community forest rights (CFR).
- Individual Forest Rights (IFR):
- It aims to secure an individual the right to hold, self-cultivate, and live in forestland under individual or common occupation
- Community Forest Rights (CFR):
- Aims to bring about radical changes in forest governance by, inter alia, conferring community forest resource rights and management authority on forest-dwelling communities.
- Since 2006, a total of 76,154 CFR claims to 88,04,870 acres of forestland have been recognised and, in many of the recognised CFR villages, forest dwellers have begun to exercise their rights.
- In detail these rights can be divided in to four:
- Title rights:
- It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed 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 and no new lands will be granted.
- Use rights:
- The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, 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:
- It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use
- 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.
- Authorities for vesting forest rights:
- The Gram Sabha shall have the authority to initiate the process of determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights that may be given to FDSTs within the local limits of its jurisdiction under this Act.
- The Gram Sabha is empowered to receive claims, consolidate and verify them, and prepare a map delineating the area of each recommended claim
- Gram Sabha 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)
- The DLC would be the final authority to approve the record of forest rights.
- A State Level Monitoring Committee would be formed to monitor the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights.
- If a person is not satisfied by the ruling of the Gram Sabha, he can file a petition to the SDLC and if not satisfied with the ruling of 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.
- Penalties for Offences:
- The Act provides punishment for persons found guilty of contravening the provisions of the Act, engaging in unsustainable use of forest or forest produce, killing any wild animal etc
With reference to ‘Forest Rights Act,’ consider the following statements:
1. It seeks to recognize and vest forest rights in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
2. The rights under the Act can be inherited but they are not transferable.
3. Grama Sabha would be the final authority to approve the record of forest rights.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1,2 and 3