As many States are unlikely to meet the deadline of distributing land deeds among tribals and other forest dwellers by the end of 2009, the Centre has directed them to expedite the process.

The direction has been given by the Tribal Affairs ministry in a letter to the States, asking them to take prompt action to meet the deadline.

The letter has been issued after the ministry found out that only eight States have initiated steps under the Scheduled Tribes and Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2007.

“The remaining States are still lagging behind with some of them yet to initiate preparatory measures,” a ministry official said.

The Maharashtra government has implemented the Act and also received 2,45,284 claims from the tribals, but it is yet to distribute title deeds to the beneficiaries completing the process of verification and approval, he said.

Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala have received claims from the tribals but have not decided on the genuine claims.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the government is yet to appoint a nodal officer for the purpose. The implementation of the Act is pending in Mizoram as it is yet to be approved by the State Assembly, while the Manipur government is completely “non-responsive.”

While Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Goa have not fulfilled the basic requirements, implementation of the Act was stopped in Orissa and Tamil Nadu on court orders.

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