Despite concerns that the appropriation of forest land for mining or infrastructure projects is leading to an increase in Maoist violence in the country, several state governments have failed to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, in an effective manner.
Of the estimated 2.5 million claims filed by tribals in different states across the country, only 500,000 title deeds were distributed till September 30 this year.
More than 78,000 more deeds are ready but have yet to be distributed, according to data available with the Tribal Affairs Ministry.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday commented on the poor implementation of the Act that envisaged distribution of title deeds to tribals.
The Prime Minister said he had written to all chief ministers twice on the issue, urging them to speed up the process so that it could be completed by this year-end.
“While some states have achieved remarkable progress in the distribution of titles, others are lagging behind.
In a few states, even the process of receiving claims is yet to commence. This cannot be considered as an acceptable situation,” the PM said at a conference of chief ministers and state ministers of tribal affairs in Delhi on Wednesday.
According to the data, states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have not distributed a single title deed so far.
Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Tripura had performed the best, having handed out 192,088, 173,091 and 74,042 deeds, respectively, till September 30 this year.
Madhya Pradesh has also done well by issuing 39,426 deeds to tribals and having another 34,857 ready for distribution.
Among states that performed the worst are West Bengal, which has distributed just 9,299 deeds so far, Maharashtra with 2,453, Jharkhand with 72 and Kerala, which has handed out only 17 deeds.
In her address to Parliament on June 4 this year, President Pratibha Patil had laid down the task of completing the process of distribution of title deeds by the end of 2009.
The Prime Minister has now asked all the chief ministers to pull up their socks and spare no effort in ensuring effective implementation of the Act and expeditious distribution of title deeds within the stipulated timeframe.