Chhattisgarh recognises tribal community rights in urban area
In a first, the Chhattisgarh government has recognised the Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights in an urban area and in core area of a tiger reserve.
A committee headed by district collector can recognise individual and community rights of tribals over forest land, except core areas of tiger habitat, where prior approval of the forest department is needed. Most of the tribal rights have been recognised in rural areas.
This would be the first instance of tribals living in urban areas getting their community right recognised. This means as a community they would have grazing and harvesting rights in the nearby forest. The Forest Rights Act, 2006, provides for individual as well as community forest rights, according to forest officials.
The officials said tribals living in Nagari, Churiyara and Tumbahara wards of Nagar Panchayat Nagari in Dhamtari district will get community forest resource rights over their 10,200 acres of forests.
According to a state government order, the rights recognised in municipal areas are spread over an area of 707.41 hectares for ward sabha Nagari, 678.18 hectares for ward sabha Churiyara and 2,746.742 hectares for ward sabha Tumbahara.
The government also recognised the community forest resource rights of five villages over 13,700 acres of forest which is spread within the core area of Sitanadi Udanti Tiger Reserve spanning across two districts of Dhamtari and Gariyaband.
The rights recognised in core areas of Sitanadi Udanti area spread over 975.58 hectare for Masulkhoi, 984.92 hectares for Karhi, 551.42 hectares for Joratarai, 1651.725 hectares for Bahigaon and 1389.615 hectares for Baroli.
“This is first time in the country that any government is recognising CFR rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 for urban areas and core area of any Tiger Reserve. These ward sabhas and gram sabhas would be able to protect, conserve, regenerate and mange the entire forest area falling within the aforesaid traditional boundary” an senior official working with chief minister’s office said.
Principal chief conservator of forests Rakesh Chaturvedi said this is an important step for empowering forest dwellers of the state. “Soon, community forest resource rights in other urban areas, where needed, will be recognized by the government,” he said.
Saraswati Dhruw, member of Forest Rights committee of ward sabha Nagari said that around 47 meeting were held altogether in order to sensitise people and officials about the existence and process of community forests resource rights in urban areas.
“The state government has taken welcome step for providing CFR rights in urban and in other protected areas of the state. We welcome the step and urge the government to give more rights to the tribals and forest dwellers of the state,” said Alok Shukla, conveyner of Chhattisgarh Bachaao Andolan.