16, Mar 2019 | SabrangIndia Staff
Evidence from the ground shows that rights holders that have rigorously used FRA 2006, specially its community rights provisions, to achieve the following goals:
- Transforming forest management to meet local livelihood and cultural needs;
- Ensuring food security and poverty alleviation;
- Securing gender justice and rights of women over land and forest;
- Strengthening conservation efforts and meeting India’s international commitments for climate change mitigation.
To those committed to the implementation of this emancipatory law, what commitments need to be taken by political party leaderships today?
The political parties seeking to address the forest rights issue need to commit for the following as demanded by forest rights and tribal organisations.
- Demand that the next Parliament holds a special session of Parliament to discuss the adequate implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) in all declared forests in India
- Appoint a Judicial Commission, first in Uttar Pradesh, then in other states to examine all the false and arbitrary cases against Adivasis and other forest dwelling communities as a first step towards quashing these malicious prosecutions
- Stop the oppression, harassment, torture of and police brutality against Adivasis, Dalits and all forest dwellers and workers, especially women
- Initiate strict action against officials responsible for these acts
- Expedite the process of approving community land claims by forest dwellers and forest workers
- Make the process of approval and rejection of individual and community land claims under FRA completely transparent, so that rejects can be appealed.
- Institute strict accountability measures for authorities, including those reviewing these claims
- Ensure fair prices for Minor Forest Produce (MFP). Provide marketing and MSP support to forest products collected/harvested by Gram Sabhas and individual forest dwellers; create mechanisms to support community forest enterprise
- Demand the strengthening of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to allow it to guide and undertake FRA implementation on a mission mode, including separate funds for FRA implementation and provision of human resources more in keeping with this major job.
- Direct and regular monitoring of FRA by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) on a regular basis
- Launch a National Mission for Forest Rights Act with the following objectives:
- Coverage of all potential FRA eligible villages
- Recognize all Community Forest Resource rights, ownership rights over minor forest produces, rights of PVTGs, nomadic and pastoral communities, rights of other traditional forest dwellers, women’s rights, rights of displaced communities and conversion of all forest, surveyed villages.
- All rejected and pending claims should be reviewed to secure rights of STs and OTFDs
- Empowerment of Gram Sabhas for governance and management of CFRs.
- Allocation of forest development funds available under compensatory afforestation, MGNREGA etc directly to Gram Sabhas.
- Ensure integration and convergence of all relevant government schemes, such as MGNREGA, Public Distribution System and others, with the FRA
- Allocation of additional funds for FRA implementation under the union budget and Article 275.
- Ensure that all forest and landscape restoration programs for meeting climate change commitments are directly supported to Gram Sabhas
- Constitute a high-level empowered committee headed by MoTA which ensures that other laws are amended to comply with Forest Rights Act
- Amend Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act to ensure compliance with the Forest Rights Act and to transfer the Rs. 60,000 crores Compensatory Afforestation Fund directly to Gram Sabhas for protection, conservation and restoration of forests and biodiversity
- Scrap the illegal Joint Forest Management Program and reform the Forest Bureaucracy to serve as service providers to Gram Sabhas
(This also contains specific demands from CJP’s Human Rights Manifesto for the 2019 general election).