Upholding Tribal Rights: The Urgency of Accelerating Forest Rights Settlement in India

Slow progress in settling forest rights claims is feared to hamper tribal empowerment. Rajasthan govt has launched a special campaign for recognition of community forest rights from March to June 30.
Upholding Tribal Rights: The Urgency of Accelerating Forest Rights Settlement in India

Rajasthan— The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood. The FRA aims to reverse the historical injustice meted out to tribal communities and OTFDs, ensure their land tenure, livelihood and food security and strengthen the conservation regime of the forests. In 2019, the Supreme Court had directed state governments to review rejections of claims under the FRA.

Despite the Forest Rights Act being in force for over 16 years, the progress in Uttarakhand towards settling forest rights claims is virtually non-existent, in contrast to the settlement of 50 percent of claims across the country. In December 2022, the Tribal Ministry of the government presented figures in the Rajya Sabha indicating that 50 percent of forest rights claims across India have been cleared and settled under the Forest Rights Act of 2006. However, the approval rate for individual forest rights remains below 50 percent in states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, which have a significant tribal population. Uttarakhand, with 64 percent forest area, is facing a dire situation where the progress towards settling individual and community forest rights claims is almost negligible.

Upholding Tribal Rights: The Urgency of Accelerating Forest Rights Settlement in India
Tribal Fishermen Face Loss of Livelihood and Fish Populations Due to Tilapia Invasion in Jaisamand Lake

As per the data available with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt of India , as of November 2022, Andhra Pradesh takes the lead with 77.20% , followed by Odisha 71.61% and Tripura 63.79% in distribution of titles over number of claims received. The data from Rajasthan is not impressive. The government received 1,10,670 individual claims and 2697 community forest rights claims . Against the total 1,13,367 claims, the government distributed 49,046 claims extending to the distribution of 1,11,168.09 acres of land to individuals and communities. This constitutes a below satisfactory 43% recognition of forest rights to the tribal claimants and 98.35 % of claims were disposed off with respect to the claims received.

Special Campaign to expedite process in Rajasthan

According to the 2011 Census, Rajasthan has more than 13 % of tribal population. The FRA is an important legislation which ensures that the rights of tribal communities and OTFDs are protected when it comes to community and individual rights. The Rajasthan government has launched a special campaign from March 1 to June 30, aimed at expediting the process of providing community forest rights under the Act.

Udaipur Divisional Commissioner Rajendra Bhatt told the media that the initiative will provide community forest rights to all eligible revenue villages across the state specially benefitting the tribal populace of Banswara , Dungarpur, Pratapgarh Rajsamand, Chittorgarh and Udaipur districts in the division. " To ensure smooth execution of the campaign, a calendar of activities will be prepared at the divisional headquarters, with officers and employees made responsible for the campaign's execution. They will receive information about the process of proposal preparation, along with the provisions of forest rights" Bhatt said.

Upholding Tribal Rights: The Urgency of Accelerating Forest Rights Settlement in India
55-yr old tribal man helping villagers cross river on a handmade bamboo raft with tyres-tubes

In order to make the campaign successful, awareness would be created through Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) material, which will be designed at the divisional headquarters and made available to all districts. The Divisional Commissioner in a meeting held on Wednesday, instructed the District Magistrates to identify revenue villages near forest blocks of their respective districts that have not yet submitted proposals for community forest rights. The residents of these villages will be encouraged to prepare proposals by informing them about the importance of community forest rights.

Reconstitution of village-level committees

The authorities have emphasized the need to reconstitute village-level forest rights committees to ensure that villagers receive the full benefits of the campaign. Special Gram Sabhas will be organized for the reconstitution of these committees, and a special camp will be organized in the concerned Gram Panchayat. Officials from all concerned departments, along with the forest rights committee, will be present to prepare claims on hand and get them approved, after completing all formalities.

To make the campaign successful, the concerned departmental officers would be present at the campsite to prepare proposals, complete GPS mapping and other formalities. They will send the proposal made to the sub-division level committee. Hoardings will be put up in every village, and publicity will be given to ensure that the campaign runs on the lines of the administration villages. The calendar of Gram Sabhas and camps will be prepared for this purpose.

A control room would be set up at the district and divisional level to compile information about the daily activities under the campaign and dispatch related information to the state level on a daily basis. Instructing to appoint gram panchayat-wise in-charge officers for the camps to be organized during the campaign, the Divisional Commissioner himself, along with the concerned district collectors, will visit these camps and monitor the progress. With these measures, the campaign aims to provide community forest rights to all eligible revenue villages in Udaipur division.

Status of Forest Rights Claims in Rajasthan

( Up to 30.11.22)



TOTAL : 1,13,367


INDIVIDUAL. : 48,460



INDIVIDUAL. : 66,251.10 acres

COMMUNITY. : 44,916.99 acres

TOTAL : 1,11,168.09 acres


DISPOSAL : 1,11,495


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