Relevance : GS Paper II (Polity & Governance)
Theme of the article
States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights.
Why has this issue cropped up?
The Supreme Court’s order to evict, over the next five months, occupants of forest lands who failed to make a successful claim for tenure under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, has once again highlighted the dilemma of reconciling inalienable tribal rights with biodiversity conservation.
Non-establishment of claims
- The Forest Rights Act protected possession and conferred heritability of land to over 23 lakh out of 44 lakh claimants who are either specified Scheduled Tribes, or people who have lived in forests traditionally, relying on forest produce for at least 75 years prior to the cut-off year of 2005.
- But over 20 lakh other applicants who could not establish their claim through gram sabhas and appellate authorities have now been ordered to be evicted by July 12.
When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed, it was with the wholly welfarist goal of making these communities partners in conservation. They would be stewards of forests that have shrunk and become fragmented over the decades
- The answer in many areas may lie in resettlement.
- In some well-documented cases, such as in the Western Ghats, alternative land and cash compensation are needed to convince tribals to move out of core areas. s
- States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights
- State governments need to pursue such programmes in a humane and vigorous fashion.
- They must also come forward to declare critical wildlife habitats under the Act. This will aid in formulating resettlement schemes for tribal residents.