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  • 02 February, 2022

  • 12 Min Read

Panchayats (Extension to the Schedule Areas) Act 1996

The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Schedule Areas) Act 1996 (PESA)

  • PESA safeguards and preserves the traditions and customs of the people, and their cultural identity, community resources, customary mode of dispute resolution.
  • PESA empowers Gram Sabha/Panchayat at appropriate level with right to mandatory consultation in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
  • PESA seeks to reduce alienation in tribal areas as they will have better control over the utilisation of public resources.
  • The act recognize and vest the forest rights in FDST and OTFD (Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
  • The act identify four types of rights:
    1. Title rights: It gives FDST and OTFD the right to 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 and no new lands will be granted.
    2. Use rights: The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
    3. Relief and development rights: To rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
    4. Forest management rights: It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
  • Who can claim these Rights?
    1. ST who primarily reside in and who depend on the forests or forest lands.
    2. It can also be claimed by any member or community who has for at least 3 generations (75 years) prior to the 13 December, 2005 primarily resided in forests land.
    3. The Gram Sabha 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.
  • Under “The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas), Act 1996” (PESA), State Legislatures have been empowered to frame all laws concerning the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats in Fifth Scheduled Areas, subject to such exceptions and modifications as are provided in section 4 of the Act. The Government has no proposal under consideration to bring about changes in the existing PESA Act.
  • The government of India has formulated the National Rehabilitation & Resettlement Policy, 2007 to minimize large-scale displacement, as far as possible. The Policy also provides comprehensive rehabilitation & resettlement benefits to the displaced families. The policy covers all projects leading to involuntary displacement of people. Para 7.21of this Policy envisages special provisions for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, which requires consultation with the concerned gram sabha or the panchayats at the appropriate level in the Scheduled Areas under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution in accordance with PESA. Each affected family of Scheduled Tribe followed by Scheduled Caste shall be given allotment of land for land, if Government Land is available in the resettlement Area.
  • PESA is an Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas. In terms of section 2 of this Act, “Scheduled Areas” means the Scheduled Areas as referred to in clause (1) of article 244 of the Constitution. The State of Bihar is not covered under this definition. Out of the ten PESA States, six States namely Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Telangana have framed their State PESA Rules.

Source: PIB

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