Syllabus subtopic:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
News: The Mizoram governmenthas passed a resolution revoking the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA).
Prelims focus: Key features of Forest Rights Act 2006.
Mains focus: Challenges in implementation of the Act and Tribal concerns
Special powers Under Article 371 (G):
Under Article 371 (G) of the Constitution, Mizoram has a special provision which makes it mandatory for all legislations of Parliament pertaining to land ownership and transfer to be first passed by the state’s assembly through a resolution before it can be implemented in the state.
The state government used this provision of the Constitution to pass a resolution to revoke FRA from the state.
The revocation is being seen as a misuse of Article 371 (G) by the state government.
According to the 2017 State of Forest Report by the Forest Survey of India, around 20% of the total 5,641 square kilometres of the forest land in Mizoram is “Unclassed Forest” which is under Autonomous District Councils.
The area of unclassed forest is lowest in Mizoram, among all North Eastern states. This also means that the potential for FRA implementation is also the highest in the state.
With a major portion of the geographical area of states like Mizoram under forest cover, and communities having ownership on those lands, revoking FRA can be seen as a means to keep the forest land with the forest departments for later diversion.
About Forest Rights Act (FRA):
The act was passed in December 2006.
It deals with the rights of forest-dwelling communities over land and other resources.
The Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
Rights under the Act:
Title rights –Ownership to land that is being 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, meaning that no new lands are granted.
Use rights –to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
Relief and development rights –to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
Forest management rights –to protect forests and wildlife.
Eligibility to get rights under the Act is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” and who depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood.
Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.
How are Rights recognized?
The Act provides that the gram sabha, or village assembly, will initially pass a resolution recommending whose rights to which resources should be recognised.
This resolution is then screened and approved at the level of the sub-division (or taluka) and subsequently at the district level.
The screening committees consist of three government officials (Forest, Revenue and Tribal Welfare departments) and three elected members of the local body at that level. These committees also hear appeals.