Bhubaneswar: A national level consultation"> Bhubaneswar: A national level consultation was organized by RCDC, Bhubaneswar & FGLG, India
Consultation on Issues & Concerns on Implementation of FRA in Orissa
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Consultation on Issues & Concerns on Implementation of FRA in Orissa

Bhubaneswar: A national level consultation was organized by RCDC, Bhubaneswar & FGLG, India at hotel Presidency premises on the issues and concerns in implementation of Forest Rights Act in Orissa. Seventy seven participants represented from Government officials, NGOs, People’s organizations, PRIs, SDLC & DLC members, journalists, academicians from different parts of India were participated in the workshop. At the outset, Mr. Sanjoy Patnaik Director (RAC), RCDC & member of FGLG welcomed to the participants and gave an overview of the workshop & provided a detailed picture on the evolution of the act.
In his speech, he told that the objective of the workshop is to share the implementation status of FRA in each state and also discuss the issues & concerns at the grassroot level. We will prepare a memorandum & submit it to the Government of Orissa basing on the issues & concerns at the micro & macro level on implementation of FRA. He suggested to the house to prepare a plan of action for the smooth implementation of FRA to fulfill the purpose of the act.

Mr. Ajit Banerjee, Member of FGLG, inaugurated the workshop. In his inaugural speech, he told that there is gaps between the laws and practice which we have to discuss & find out and prepare a plan to achieve the goals of the act.

Mr. Sanjay Upadhya, the member of drafting committee of the act and also member of FGLG chaired the session and discussed the importance of FRA in the context of India. He discussed the relevant issues which are barriers to achieve the purpose of the act. He suggested to discuss the major issues which affect the process implementation of the act like the gaps between law & practices in the field. The act clearly emphsised on the rights over the community forest resources, but in practice the less importance has given to the community claims. And the most vital issues in issuing the title deeds to the claimant is the court cases filed by the retired officials in 9 high courts & one in supreme court.

Dr. Surykumari, CPF, Andhrapradesh, presented the status implementation of FRA in Andhrapradesh and in his presentation she mentioned that nearly 39,864 ha of land have been finalized for title deeds. She highlighted the major issues which paved the process implementation like the interim order of the court & the activities of the officials slowed down process.

Mr. Biswajeet Mishra, Addl. Secretary, SC & ST department, Government of Orissa, discussed the aims and objectives, purpose and implementation processes of the act. He presented that total 2,37,899 nos. of claims have been submitted to the Gramasabhas, 1,53,478nos. of claims have been forwarded to the SDLC by Gramasabhas and 20,000 claims are ready for title deeds. But only 15,285 community claims have been forwarded to the SDLC by the Gramasabha. He addressed problems like the interim order of the court, insufficient officials at the field level to carry out the process implementation of the act. He answered the key questions of the participants. Mr. R.N.Dash, Commissioner –cum- Secretary, Panchayatiraj Department to Government of Orissa, attended and listened to the views of the participants. He appraised the activities of the civil society organizations in the process and invited the suggestions and materials developed by the organizations in this regard.

The participants were discussed the gaps between the laws and practices in the field. The major issues presented by the participants are given below:

 

·         Inadequate initiative to implement the FRA in inaccessible areas

 

·         Field verification by SDLC in selected areas like the individual claims in revenue forests.

 

·         It seems the systems and processes used during verification vary from district to district - No specific method followed.

 

·         Negative attitude of the line department to implement the act and particularly at the time of verification of community claims.

 

·         Non verification of the claims in the project areas implemented after 13th December 05.

 

·         Non verification of claims of the OTFD due to lack of proof of 75 years (The witness of the elders are not accepted by the team members)

 

·         Claimants do not have understanding on different community forest resources - Less or no priority on community claims at community, PRIs and facilitating agencies

 

·         SDLC & FD not oriented on community forest rights. (the community claims have not verified by the verification team

 

·         Since boundary of the forest villages have not been demarcated, conflicts arising among the neighboring villages.

 

·         Nothing has been done with regard to settlement of community rights in CWH

 

·         Ignoring the community in the declaration process of CWH / CTH.

 

·         No discussion has been made with the forest dependant communities as most of the fringe villages are dependant on the protected areas.

 

·         Non involvement of the Gramsabha members / organizations in the expert committees

 

·         Lack of information on various laws, regulations, rules on sanctuary & guidelines on declaration of CWH / CTH.

 

·         Proper discussion has not made with the proposed displaced families in regards to the rehabilitation package.

 

·         No provisions how to compensate the community rights at the time of rehabilitation as the people are more dependant of forest resources.

 

·         Restoration of socio-cultural and heritage of the displaced communities are in question.

 

·         SDLC verification has been done in lands where there were crops, so the uplands are not verified.

 

·         The verification committees have not presented the final report near the Pallisabha for which the people do not find time to appeal.

 

·         Community rights in question in PAs as grazing, rights over water bodies, collection of NTFP and above all community forest rights are banned till today as per the protected area guidelines.

 

·         Representations from Gram Sabha to free KL and Bamboo have been given to all concerned but nothing seems to be moving.

The house was divided into four groups to discuss the key issues in the recognition, verification & vesting of rights and prepare an action to streamline the implementation process of the act. The major suggestions come from the groups are given below:

·         A copy of inspection report should be submitted to village level committee.

 

·         Special and massive sensitization programme should be conducted involving FRC members, SDLC members, Tahasildar, R.I., Amins, Forest officers on FRA and FRR.

 

·         Special cell for depositing claim and special officer in charge to expedited the process.

 

·         Initiate the process to submit the community claim from the village level

 

·         Joint verification by Govt. and Revenue Department for individual as well as community claims should be made in all types of forest like rights in PAs, RFs and revenue forests.

 

·         CWH process should be clearly mentioned and shared with community.

 

·         Circular should be issued to denationalize the KL and Bamboo.

 

·         PTG Habitat determination process should be developed

On behalf of FGLG, India, Mr. Pradyut Bhattacharya gave the vote of thanks to the participants.

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