India: Who is a tribe? Who is an Encroacher? 2006 Forest Rights Act sorts it all out?

The Act recognises four main rights:

(i) the right of traditional forest dwellers to claim forest land held
before December 13, 2005;

(ii) the right of the government to divert forest land for 13 kinds of
development activities, including building of schools, hospitals,
aganwadis and roads;

(iii) the rights of individuals and a community as a whole over minor
forest produce, grazing land and water resources, and so on; and

(iv) the right of communities to protect, conserve, regenerate or
manage any forest or community forest resource that has been
traditionally protected.

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Some of the concerns raised about the FRA relate to individual
holdings of forest land and development activities on them. Many
people fear that indiscriminate regularisation of forest land could
encourage encroachments on forest areas. It is also felt that any
emphasis on private landholdings will lead to further individualism
among communities instead of fostering a community feeling.
Additionally, the provision of development facilities could lead to
fragmentation of forests and open up the possibilities of misuse of
the Act.

The pace of implementation of the FRA has varied from rushed to
relaxed in different States. The various awareness campaigns
undertaken by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government
agencies during the past year have focussed on a few provisions rather
than the Act in its entirety. As a result, the thrust of the
implementation so far has been on claiming individual rights to land.
Community rights have remained largely invisible.

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Comments (1)

CSDMarch 25th, 2009 at 3:51 am

For those interested, there is more information on the Forest Rights Act at, including on the struggle over the Act and related issues.

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