Saturday, June 27, 2015

Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act has tried to undo the historic injustice done to the forest dweller and tribals. It recognizes the customary right of tribal over the forest land. But this Progressive legislation is also suffering from implementation deficit.
The reasons for non-implementation or slow implementation are: 
1. State government,due to lack of political will, have deliberately delayed the notification of rules and regulation.
2. The forest bureaucracy’s non-responsive attitude. They have vested interest in
non-implementation and they don’t want to lose their hold.
3. The process of reorganization of rights is intensive involving documentation by
gram sabha, their subsequent approval by higher authorities.
4. The absence of documentary proof and lack of reliable data (maps, ownership records, residence proofs etc) further complicated the process of recognition of customary ownership rights.
5. While Individual rights have been recognized in many places, but process of
granting community ownership rights is very slow. This defeats the whole
purpose of act.
To ensure the effective implementation of FRA, following steps should be taken: 
1. Central government should set clear targets and their attainment should be incentivised by fiscal incentives.
2. The upgradation of technology including digitalized mapping, GIS to map area ( in decision making process as well as in monitoring) etc can speed up the process.
2. Capacity building of Gram Sabha with necessary technical help should be provided by Central government or Civil Society organizations.
3. Reform in Forest Bureaucracy to make them responsive and breaking the contractor forest official nexus is required. Use of ICT in decision making to make process transparent is required.
4. Granting of community Ownership should be prioritized by notifying guidelines on same.
Political will combined with responsive and empathetic approach to implementation can ensure effective implementation of FRA.

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