Himachal started off late as it claimed that the forest rights of the villagers had already been settled during colonial rule and that no FRA compliance issue exists which is why the Act was implemented only in scheduled areas of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Chamba. The state government got its act together only after the tribal affairs ministry wrote to the Chief Minister in 2013 saying that implementation of FRA cannot be set aside due to settlements done in the past.
Himachal started off late as it claimed that the forest rights of the villagers had already been settled during colonial rule and that no FRA compliance issue exists which is why the Act was implemented only in scheduled areas
Acccording to data, over 43 per cent of claims have been rejected all over India and several are still pending before the authorities. In Gujarat, only 9.3 per cent claims were approved in the first round. After protests by different groups, additional 19,000 claims were approved in the second round, bringing the total to 20 per cent claims. "There has been no political will for the proper implementation of this Act at highest level in the state government. As a result, the Forest Department has been given a defacto veto power in claim approval process. The department considered only the documentary evidence of its records as acceptable evidence and ignored all other evidences that were submitted by the claimants. This was in direct violation of Rule 13 of the Forest Rights Rules," says Ambrish Mehta of Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH).
It was only after a Gujarat High Court order on a public interest litigation (PIL) that the state government decided to review all the rejections. "Around 30,000 additional claims have been approved after we filed the PIL. The progress in review of pending claims is still very slow, which gives an indication that the state government is still not very keen on this," Mehta adds.
The department considered only the documentary evidence of its records as acceptable evidence and ignored all other evidences that were submitted by the claimants. This was in direct violation of Rule 13 of the Forest Rights Rules
In total, titles pertaining to more than 57.16 lakh hectare of forest land were distributed in India. Madhya Pradesh topped the charts followed by Maharashtra and Odisha. Himachal Pradesh distributed only 0.35 acre under FRA. The states have not given a segregated data on how much land was claimed in the first place. So. it's not possible to draw a comparison between land claimed and awarded. There are scores of instances where very small percentage of the claim was allowed.
In Ranjra village of Dindon district in Madhya Pradesh, the land awarded to the community was the agricultural and residential land, the titles for which people had already received under individual forest rights claims. “In Rajasthan, only one third or one fourth of the claimed land is given in most of the cases,” says Jagdish Purohit of Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development.
Well-known for its declaration of self-rule, Mendha became the first village in the country to get community rights over 1809.61 hectare forests. This recognition helped in harvesting of minor forest products including bamboo. Mendha also became the first village in the country to earn over Rs 1 crore through bamboo sale with a transparent tendering system.
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