85 percent of Forest Rights Act claims settled

New Delhi, Feb 18: More than three million claims, representing 85 percent of those filed under the Forest Rights Act, have been settled by the end of 2013, the government said Tuesday.

“The government has disposed of 3,106,690 claims by the end of 2013 out of 3,654,420 claims filed under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act-2006, commonly known as Forest Rights Act (FRA)”, a Tribal Affairs Ministry statement said here.

“Out of the claims disposed of, 1,395,647 individual titles and 22,431 community titles have been distributed and 15,867 titles are ready for distribution,” the statement added.

It said the highest number of 328,580 titles have been granted in Odisha, while titles for the largest forest area of over a million acres have been issued in Madhya Pradesh.

The Act gives legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities. Those who are cultivating the land prior to Dec 13, 2005 but do not have documents can claim the land. The upper limit of the claim is set at four hectares.

Declaring that the government enacted the FRA in 2006 to correct the historical injustice suffered by forest dwelling tribal communities, the statement said: “The Act also goes beyond the recognition of forest rights and empowers the forest rights holders, Gram Sabhas and local level institutions with the right to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage any community forest resource.”

IANS