The Uttarakhand state government has rejected all claims for land rights to the forest dwellers under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) says a report compiled by New Delhi based Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN).
As per the report, till January this year a total of 31,68,478 claims by the forest dwellers were received from various states. Of these land titles were given to 45.94% while 54% were rejected.
The rejection rate of as many as 11 states is above 50%. Uttarakhand tops the list with 100% rejection followed by Himachal Pradesh 99.62%, Bihar 98.12%, Karnataka 95.66% and Uttar Pradesh 80.48%. Kerala and Tripura rejected few cases, 16.95% and 15.07% respectively.
“Forest Rights Committees have not been constituted at the Gram Sabha level in several states as provided in the Act. Moreover predominance to forest officials hampers the process of verification and decision making,” says Paritosh Chakma, Coordinator, AITPN.
The FRA empowers Schedule Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, residing in forest for maximum of 75 years before 2005, are entitled for right over forestl land for dwelling.
“Forest rights have been denied to Van Gujjars who are traditional dwellers for generations and officials are non cooperative” says Avdash Kaushal, forest right activist who has been struggling for Van Gujjars in the Garhwal area.
Numbers of forest dwellers reside in 165 ‘forest villages’ and national parks in Uttarakhand. They have had been struggling hard for survival and rights.