There is an urgent need to protect forest rights in India right now. Enumerate some of the steps that should be taken to protect Forest rights.
The forest rights guaranteed under the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 needs to be protected. The following interventions can ensure rights of the millions of people dwelling in the forest areas:
Focus on Community Forest Rights
The focus of agencies implementing forest rights is increasingly towards the individual forest rights and not on the CFR. The effective implementation of community forest rights will result in benefiting, at least 150 million forest dwelling people over a minimum of 40 million hectares of forest land.
Proper recording of forest rights claims
There should have been a clear description of the forest right, the demarcation of boundaries and other relevant information. The document should also specify the survey number or khata number of the land.
Proper Integration of government schemes with beneficiaries
There are no institutional arrangements and support mechanisms to integrate and line the department schemes with forest rights beneficiaries.
ï¿½Deregulation of minor forest produce rules is needed
State governments continue to resist and create hurdles in the implementation of community rights over non-timber forest products. A nation-wide deregulation of minor forest produce rules and policies has to be undertaken.
Ensure forest dwellers getï¿½benefits of MSP
There is no institutional mechanism at the local level to ensure forest dwellers get the minimum support price as per these schemes and notification. Middlemen and contractors continue to exploit forest dwellers by paying low value to their collected minor forest products.
Empower Gram Sabhas
The FRA seeks to decentralise forest rights recognition process to Gram Sabha. There is need to vest the power in Gram Sabha to initiate the process for determining the nature and the extent of different types of rights.
Lack of effective coordination between the ministries has resulted in delaying the approval of forest rights claims. This has increased operational costs for development projects and denied rights to thousands of forest dwellers to access forest resources. There is an urgent need to solve all the issues related to the forest rights.