ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Livelihoods of Forest Dwellers

The article “Implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 in Odisha: Process, Constraints and Outcome” by Kailas Sarap, Tapas Kumar Sarangi and Jogindra Naik (EPW, 7 September 2013) provides a comprehensive account of the present status and various challenges faced in the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Odisha. However, the implementation of the FRA in other states of the country is not problem-free either. Coupled with lack of awareness at the community level, bureaucratic indifference is one such major factor affecting the FRA’s implementation in letter and spirit. A recent study covering Burhanpur district of Madhya Pradesh reveals that there is a very low level of awareness about the Act among the Korku tribals in the region. Though the forest department has played a pivotal role in granting individual rights to genuine claimants, the tribal welfare department has not shown much interest in disseminating information about the FRA.

Further, providing proof of ownership rights over land under possession is one of the major difficulties that many deserving beneficiaries face. Neither have the gram panchayats been sufficiently empowered nor are they active in the implementation of the FRA. Worse, the claim forms are not even available at either the gram panchayat or the janpad panchayat levels. As many Korku tribal families migrate out for wage labour during the off seasons, their absence during mapping causes a further delay in settlement of claims. Given that an Act like the FRA, which has multiple agencies involved and the fact that the state government’s forest laws contradict those of the central government, implementation of the FRA is indeed becoming a challenging task. In Madhya Pradesh, though there has been considerable progress in claims of individual rights, primarily owing to political interests, very little is done about granting community forest rights.

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