Ranchi: Despite a provision under law for right to own forest land, the government’s ignorance and official hassles have deprived the forest dwellers of their right. In spite of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act 2006, the dwellers have been forced to live in abject poverty.

Since the Act came into effect, 34,507 applications have been received for lease on land of which only 14,078 people have achieved their forest land. As a result, 35,723 acres of land have been distributed among them on lease.


Who have right to ownership

•    People with at least three generations living on the forest land and the concerned person or his    ancestors have at least 75 years old relationship with the land. This law was valid till December 13, 2005.
•     Forest dwellers who have been displaced for any reason and have not received their share
•    Forest dwellers whose land was acquired by the government for a particular reason but is not in use.
•    The forest dwellers of any tribe whose resident or village has not been surveyed before but they have been living since a minimum of 75 years on that land, as on December 13, 2005.
 
Conditions applicable to forest dwellers

•    responsible for conservation of forests, wildlife and biological diversity
•    Responsibility to maintain ecological balance, water catchment area and existing water resources.
•    Would have to assure the protection of forests and wildlife and to comply with the instructions issued by the government at Gram Sabha level.

Problems

•    tribes and villagers living in forests are unaware of the law
•    the officials do not provide expected support
•    people unfamiliar with tribal life have been included in the Forest Rights Committee
•    Trees are being grown on the disputed land under social forestry.
•    Primitive tribes, who are forest dwellers in general, are not being connected to community rights.

(JPN/Bureau)