The Government Jammu and Kashmir will implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which was not enforced in the Union Territory for the past 14 years. It will upgrade the socio-economic status of a sizable section of the 14-lakh-strong population of tribals and nomadic communities.


A sizable number of people, especially the scheduled tribes and forest dwellers have lived in and around forests for a long period in symbiotic relationship. This relationship has led to homologate informal customary rules of use and extraction, often governed by ethical beliefs and practices that have maintained the balance in the forests.Since the colonial time the nucleus shifted from the forests being used as a resource base for sustenance of local communities to a state resource for commercial purposes like development of land for agriculture. Several Acts and policies such as the 3 Indian Forest Acts of 1865, 1894 and 1927 of Central Govt and some state forest Acts prohibited centuries‐old, customary‐use rights of local communities. The exploitation continued even after independence until parliament enacted The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006

FRA enacted in 2006 recognises the rights of forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources on which these communities were relying on a variety of needs, including livelihood, habitation and other sociocultural needs. It recognizes and vest the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations. It reinforced the upkeep of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the FDST and OTFD. The Gram Sabha of the panchayati raj system is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR) or both that may be given to FDST and OTFD.

Salient Features of Forest Rights Act:

    • Title(Holding) rights: It gives Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) the right to direct ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares. Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family at that particular time and no new land will be granted.

    • User rights:The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas etc.

    • Relief and development rights: To rehabilitation of the FDST and OTFD in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.

  • Forest administration rights: It includes the right to safeguard, regenerate, conserve, manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.

Gravity of Forest Rights Act:

  • Constitutional Provision: It holds the mandate of the Fifth and the Sixth Schedules of the Constitution that shield the claims of indigenous communities over tracts of land or forests they inhabit.

  • Security Concerns: The alienation of tribes and their lack of development was one of the factors behind the Insurgencies, which affected red corridor states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand.

  • Forest Management: It has the potential to democratise forest management  by recognising community forest resource rights and also ensure that people get to manage their forest on their own, which will regulate exploitation of forest resources by officials, improve forest governance and better management of tribal rights.

Challenges to Forest Rights Act

  • Administrative and Political Apathy: As tribals don’t constitute  a big vote bank in most states, governments find it convenient to subvert FRA. The forest bureaucracy has misinterpreted the FRA as an instrument to keep a check on encroachment rather than welfare measures for tribals. Corporates fear they may lose the economic viability to valuable natural resources.

  • Dilution of  FRA Act: Certain sections of environmentalists raise the concern that FRA bends more in the favour of individual rights, giving lesser scope for community rights.

  • Institutional Bottlenecks: Rough maps of community and individual claims are prepared by Gram Sabha which at times often lack technical knowhow and suffers from educational incapacity.

  • Lack of Awareness: Lack of unawareness at the lower level of forest officials who are supposed to help process forest rights claims is high and the majority of the aggrieved population too remains in the dark regarding their rights.

  • Misuse of FRA: The FRA has been misused and communities have rushed to file claims. Politicians across party lines have interpreted FRA as a land distribution exercise and have fixed targets for districts.

Way Forward

  • It is significant that the governance at Central and State levels are strengthened with human and financial resources to help implement FRA on a mission mode.

  • Besides leveraging modern technology to map and monitor the implementation of FRA, the forest bureaucracy must also be reformed to serve as service providers to gram sabhas.

  • It is important to develop a detailed strategy of training and capacity building of people responsible for implementing the FRA, such as Panchayats, Gram Sabha, village level Forest Rights committee etc.

  • The relevant maps and documents should be made available to the Forest rights committee and claimants to simplify the task of the Gram Sabha in identifying and filing claims for individual and community rights.

  • Providing clarity on the time limit for settling claims the act does not specify any time limit for resolving claims. In most of the areas, both the officials and beneficiaries are unaware of this fact.

  • The Central government should take a more proactive role in pushing states to honour a law that could change the lives of millions.

23nd september 2021 current Affairs Download

No Comments

Post A Comment