Study on Entitlements of Tribals and Forest Rights Status in Jharkhand
DBSS Chotanagpur along with Adivasi Samanvay Samiti, Saranda and Jangal Bachao Andolan (Save Forest Movement) had been working tirelessly with Adivasi/ Tribal communities for the past three to four decades. At present the focus is on Forest and Land rights issues.
Forest Rights Act (FRA) came into existence in 2006 as a response of Indian Government to the growing Adivasi’s struggles. The act was launched with an intention to rectify the historical injustice brought on the indigenous communities of India.
“Forest Rights Act, 2006 is an act to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupations in forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations. It secures individual or community tenure or both to these traditional forest dwellers for habitation or self – cultivation for livelihood. Community rights, such as nistar…….(Continues).
- Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce (includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin) which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries;
- Other community rights of uses of entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing (both settled or transhumant) and traditional seasonal resource access of nomadic or pastoralist communities;
- Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
Ownership – to land that is being framed by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date.
FRA also allows for the following facilities managed by the government which involve namely: schools, dispensary, anganwadi, fair price shops., etc”
Extracts from The Gazette of India,
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
DBSS Chotangapur during the course of its intervention with the tribal communities in facilitating the implementation of FRA, observed that only a handful of tribal villages in Jharkhand have been benefited from FRA, while thousands of villages have still been deprived. Several petitions are filed; various presentations and meetings are organized to facilitate community rights/ entitlements to the villagers and as a result villagers receive only a small amount of land which is very low against their entitlement.
CNI SBSS along with DBSS Chotanagpur facilitated a study on the benefits received by the tribal communities under FRA. Mr. Gladson Dungdung conducted a study with the objectives to do the reality check of FRA in realizing the individual rights and community rights; to engage effectively with the State government for better enforcement of the FRA 2006. On 15th March 2016, a one day consultation- ‘Chintan’ was organized where Mr. Dungdung shared the primary finding of the study. The consultation gave space for in-depth discussion regarding the issue and further course of action was planned.
The study, in the form of a book called ‘Adivasi and Vanadhikar’ was published by Prithvi Publishers, New Delhi. During the book launch, participants from different districts shared their experiences on the issue of forest rights. The book contains description of Tribals and forests; Socio-Economic conditions of tribals; Historical background of forest rights; correlation of Tribals, forests and the Constitution, Correlation of forests, Industrial development and the environment; Injustice and atrocities on tribals and counter movements, FRA status of Jharkhand, Case Stories and Study data etc. The author, Mr. Gladson Dungdung while presenting the finding of the study, shared that “It appears as if the state Government is deliberately failing the Act due to the mining interest. If the Act is enforced, the mining activities and mega steel projects will face crisis in land acquisition and mining lease clearances, the Government, therefore, doesn’t want to enforce the Act properly.”
The tribal communities are mobilized under the banner of Adivasi Samanvay Samiti (ASS) on this issue. The ASS is now in discussion with Jharkhand government to allocate land as per the provision of the FRA 2006. On 10th November 2016 the villagers from different blocks of Jharkhand have planned to return the pattas that they have received for lesser land against their entitlement to the Governor of Jharkhand. Tribal MPs and MLAs have also assured that they would take up the issue in the coming assembly session.