The central government has asked at least 10 states to review the claims of forest dwellers for land titles under the forest rights act in the last eight years in a bid to tackle the Maoist influence in rural India.
According to the Centre, the act will give tribals residing in the 106 Left Wing Extremism-affected districts the legal rights to the forest land and resources and prevent them from getting into Maoist activities.
The states that were asked to deal with the issue are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
Officials from the ministry of home affairs and tribal affairs, who held a meeting to “review the progress in distribution of title deeds under the Forest Rights Act 2006 in LWE-affected districts” on Tuesday, observed that in some of these states, the rejection rates of the claims made were as high as 80%.
“Under FRA, forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, make claims for forest rights to get the title of that land so that they can cultivate the land and nobody can displace them. Tribals are poor, they are not capable of making an appeal against the rejections. It is important that they get these rights and thus don’t get under the influence of Naxals,” the official said.
The state governments have been asked to review all the rejections since the legislation came into force on December 31, 2007, under the act that aims to remove historical injustice done to the forest dwelling communities.
“A scrutiny of the reasons given by states revealed that majority of the rejections were wrongful and based on invalid and flimsy grounds,” a government official said.
“There is a serious lack of awareness on the implementation of FRA not only among the beneficiaries but also among those who are supposed to implement it,” he added.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest rejection rate at 80.64% followed by Maharastra (69.41%), West Bengal (67.80%) and Madhya Pradesh (61%).
Andhra Pradesh: 58.19%
Uttar Pradesh: 80.64%
West Bengal: 67.80%
Madhya Pradesh: 61.30%t