New Delhi, Jul 6 (PTI) The government is committed to the development and empowerment of the tribal communities, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday while joining hands with the tribal affairs ministry to give more powers to these communities in managing forest resources.
In an event, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs jointly decided to ensure the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 and complete the process of recognition of the rights of the tribal communities.
'The (Narendra) Modi government is committed to the development and empowerment of the tribal communities. Today's step is historic for the overall development of tribals and the implementation of the Forest Rights Act in its true letter and spirit,' Javadekar said.
He said during the seven years of the Modi government, several steps have been taken for the empowerment of the tribal communities and lakhs of tribals have benefitted from the forest fund.
A joint communication was issued by Union Environment Secretary R P Gupta and Tribal Affairs Secretary Anil Kumar Jha pertaining to the effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, which is commonly known as the FRA.
The ministries have asked the state forest and tribal welfare departments to work together to ensure an early implementation of the FRA, 2006 and complete the process of recognition of the rights of the tribal communities.
The ministries noted that the forest-dwelling scheduled tribes (FDSTs) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs) live with an insecurity of tenure and fear of eviction from the lands where they have lived and thrived for generations.
'These were the biggest reasons why tribal communities felt emotionally as well as physically alienated from forests and forest lands. This historical injustice needed correction and therefore, the government enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, which is commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA),' the joint communication said.
It said the process of recognition of rights is yet to be completed, adding that since the state governments are responsible for the implementation of the Act, issues related to its implementation need to be resolved at the state level.
The Act recognises and vests the forest rights and occupation in forest land in FDSTs and OTFDs, who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded, and provides a framework for recording the forest rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land.
The ministries also decided that 'any queries/issues that may require clarification/hamper the implementation of FRA may be brought to the notice of the central government so that both ministries may take a collective view on the matter, including issuing joint clarifications, guidelines etc.
'Therefore, you are requested to undertake a review of the implementation of the Act and intimate the government of India about any clarifications that are needed to smoothen the process,' the communication addressed to the chief secretaries of all the states said. PTI AG RC