In the season of political uncertainty over nuclear deal, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Tribal Affairs ministry to speed up the implementation of Forest Rights law, touted as a landmark legislation by the UPA government.
In a report to the PMO, the Tribal Affairs ministry has said Congress-ruled states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra have been slow to act and have constituted only state and district level committees, the first step to implement the Act.
On the other hand, the NDA-ruled states like Gujarat had Chhattisgarh have conducted gram sabha meetings to identify the beneficiaries. “In some cases land rights have also been awarded,” an official said. Orissa, another NDA-ruled state with high tribal population, has asked the sub-divisional offices to submit monthly progress reports to the CM’s office.
Tribal Affairs minister P.R. Kyndiah has called a meeting of state tribal affairs ministers to review the Act’s implementation, the first after the law was notified on January 1, 2008. “We will tell states to work earnestly to provide benefits to tribals and forest dwellers,” the minister recently told HT.
The government’s wish to give land to maximum claimants before the next general election may run into rough weather with the Environment Ministry insisting that it needs to approve any diversion of forestland. The Environment Ministry has asked the Tribal Affairs Ministry to inform states that its permission is necessary to give forestland to the claimants.