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FRA at 15: Successes, Failures, Suggestions



  Apr 18, 2024

FRA at 15: Successes, Failures, Suggestions



What is the Forest Rights Act (FRA)?

A law passed in India in 2006 recognizing the historical rights of forest-dwelling communities, including Scheduled Tribes, over forest land and resources.

What types of rights does the FRA recognize?

Individual Forest Rights (IFR): Include rights to self-cultivation, habitation, and access to resources within forests.

Community Forest Rights (CFR): Encompass rights to manage, protect, and utilize forest resources collectively, as well as rights to traditional knowledge and customs.

How are FRA claims processed?

Claims are filed with the Gram Sabha (village council), assessed by various committees at the sub-divisional and district levels, and finally approved or rejected at the district level.


Successes in Implementation

Which Indian state/district is cited as a positive example of FRA implementation?

Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, where Gram Sabhas are empowered to resolve claims with minimal bureaucratic interference.

Why is Maharashtra's approach seen as successful?

Gram Sabhas are treated as "bodies corporate" (legal entities), allowing streamlined decision-making and effective implementation of the FRA.


Ongoing Challenges

What is a major misconception found in the implementation of the FRA?

That the FRA applies only to Scheduled Tribes, excluding other traditional forest-dwelling communities (OTFDs) from its benefits.

How are community forest rights (CFR) impacted by implementation hurdles?

CFR claims form a significantly smaller proportion of approved claims compared to individual rights. There's often reluctance from officials to grant these rights.

What challenges do communities practicing jhum cultivation face under the FRA?

Proving 75 years of continuous occupation of the same land is difficult due to the shifting nature of jhum cultivation, making it a hurdle for obtaining rights.


Key Recommendations of the Report

What changes does the report recommend for smoother FRA implementation?

● Better coordination between the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.

● A system to address grievances when claims are left unresolved by committees.

● Special focus on the northeast region, considering its unique ethnic diversity.



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