The UPA government's ambitious plan to distribute land deeds among tribals and other forest dwellers by the year end may hit a road block with many states not taking even preparatory measures in this direction.
According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, only eight states have begun implementing the Scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2007 by starting the process of distributing land deeds among the bonafide tribals and other forest dwellers.
The states which have started the process are Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tripura where some tribals and forest dwellers have received land deeds after proper verification and approval at different levels, sources in the ministry said.
However, all the remaining states are lagging behind in implementing the Act with some of them yet to initiate the preparatory measures like formation of gram sabhas and empowered committees at district and state level for receiving and approving forest land claims from the targetted sections.
The government had made its intentions clear on completing this process in the country by the end of 2009 through the Presidential Address to the joint sitting of Parliament on June 4.
In her speech, President Pratibha Patil had said that the new government will "monitor" implementation of the Act "to ensure" that all title deeds are distributed under its provisions to beneficiaries "by the end of 2009".
Maharashtra government has implemented the Act and also received 2,45,284 claims from the tribals, but it is yet to distribute title deeds to the beneficiaries completing the process of verification and approval, sources said.
The state is now ready with only 1,384 title deeds for distribution.
In the tribal-dominated state of Arunachal Pradesh, the state's social welfare department has been selected as the nodal agency for the implementation of the Act.
But the state government is yet to appoint a nodal officer for the purpose of the Act, besides forming Gram Sabhas and other committees.
The implementation of the Act is pending in Mizoram as it is yet to be approved by the legislative assembly of the state as per the Constitutional provisions.
The Manipur government is completely "non-responsive" on the implementation of the Act, sources said.
It is yet to communicate to the ministry as to why no action has been initiated on the issue. "The state (Manipur) also skipped the review meeting of the ministry held last year to discuss the status of the implementation of the Act," sources added.