Food for thought
- Has Indian experience really different from Kenya?
- Since the British era in India, the focus has shifted from the forests as resource base for sustenance of local communities to a State resource for commercial interests.
- Since 1947, the Indian government also neglected the rights of tribals & forest dwellers till enactment of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
- Has the situation really changed since 2006?
- What kind of rights are recognized under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006?
- Analyze if the Forest Rights Act 2006 has helped in upliftment of economic and social status of forest dwellers?
Forest Rights Act 2006
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or FRA 2006 is a landmark legislation which seeks to restore the rights of forest dwellers over land, community forest resources and habitats.
- The FRA 2006 also aims for sustainable governance and management of forests. The law aims to rectify the historical injustices where forest-dwelling communities were denied rights for decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
What kind of rights?
- Ownership rights
- FRA 2006 gives forest dwelling tribes right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
- Use rights
- FRA 2006 gives rights to the dwellers to extract Minor Forest Produce, grazing etc.
- Development rights
- FRA 2006 gives rights to rehabilitation to FDs.
- Forest management rights
- FRA 2006 also provides the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage community forest & resources.
Potential of FRA 2006
- Socio – Economic development
- Good Governance
- Gram Sabha is the authority to initiate the process to award rights on forest dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers after thorough assessment of the extent of their needs from forest lands.
Has FRA implementation been upto the potential?
- The Forest Rights Act (FRA) has been in existence for 16 years but many forest dwellers across India are still in vulnerable condition due to improper implementation of FRA.
The Core Issues
- Non-compliance of the procedure
- Lack of Transparency
- Documentation hassle – Proof of evidence
- Poor record keeping
- Lack of awareness – Right to appeal
- Rights of Women
- High Rejections among OTFD
- Lack of coordination
- Non expansion of other schemes
- Multiplicity of legal provisions
So, Is FRA a failure?
- Seven States in the country have been behind in implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) effectively, as per the Tribal affair ministry progress report on FRA implementation.
- These States include Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.
- There are a lot of rejections, majority of them being wrongful based on invalid and flimsy grounds, as per a report of the Union Tribal Ministry.
Food for Thought