Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, April 14
Irked over inordinate delay in implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, residents of tribal Kinnaur district in the state have urged the government to complete the process of implementing the Forest Rights Act (FCA) expeditiously by April-end.
“The Act was passed in January 2008. Following communication from the Union Government, the state government issued a notification on June 30, 2016, for constitution of a district-level and sub-divisional level forest rights committee and also imparted training to staff and gram sabhas, but the tribals have not benefited from it,” said convener of the Himlok Jagriti Manch, Kinnaur, RS Negi.
“In June 2015, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs directed the Chief Secretary to complete the process of verification of claims of tribals under FRA claims by the end of December 2015, but the state government expressed its inability to complete the process by due date due to panchayat elections and committed to complete the process by April 2016, but it seems that the deadline will not be adhered to,” Negi lamented.
Asserting that “injustice is being perpetrated on tribals due to negligence of the Tribal Development and Panchayati Raj Departments which have miserably failed to perform their duties”, Negi pointed out that from 2008 to 2010, as many as 2,477 individuals and 54 community claims have been filed by claimants in Kinnaur and out of 2,477 individual claims, 1,370 claims and 54 community claims were pending with the district-level committee and 1,107 individual claims were pending with village-level forest rights committees, because of “inaction” on part of the government.
Under the Forest Rights Act and Rules, the tribals have right to hold and live on the forestland under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood, right to ownership and access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce, including all non-timber forest produce of the plant origin.
Further, the Act also grants right of settlement and conversion of all forest villages, old habitation, unsurveyed villages and other villages in forest, whether recorded, notified or not into revenue villages, to protect regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use, rights recognised under any state law or laws, right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property.
The right of hunting or trapping and extracting a part of the body of any species of wild animal has been denied.
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