Even as Adivasis in the State demand rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the majority of them in Mysore district have to contend with their applications for land grants being rejected.
In four taluks
According to statistics gathered by The Hindu, of the four taluks inhabited by Adivasis in the district — Heggadadevanakote, Hunsur, Periyapatna and Nanjangud taluks — a total of 5,387 applications under the individual rights category were received and of these, 4,832 were rejected. In Heggadadevanakote, 112.37 acres were granted concerning 393 claims; and in Periyapatna, 74.30 acres were granted concerning 162 claims in the individual category (a total of 187.27 acres).
The reason for rejecting the claims is that the applicants lived on the fringes of the forest and not inside the forest, as required under the Act.
S. Sreekanth, convener of the State Girijana Kriya Koota, a tribal welfare organisationcountered the claims of the officials saying that they had no right to reject any application as per the amended Forest Rights Act. More than 2,000 claims have been pending before the district-level committee, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, since the last two years as rejected applicants had gone on appeal, he said. The applications were rejected at the sub-divisional level headed by the Assistant Commissioner, who had sought the opinion of the Forest Department on the claims. The latter had “misled” the official resulting in the rejection of applications, Mr. Sreekanth alleged. Of the 3,631 applications received in Heggadadevanakote taluk, 3,238 were rejected and only 393 accepted for grants. Of the 179 applications in Periyapatna taluk, 162 were approved and 17 rejected. All 1,311 applications in Hunsur taluk and 266 claims in Nanjangud taluk were rejected, Mysore District Social Welfare Officer, Rajesh Gowda, who is also in-charge of the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP), told The Hindu. Up to 80 per cent of the applications were tribal people and the remaining, traditional forest-dwellers.
In the community rights category, of the total of 107 applications, only 19 were granted, Mr. Gowda stated.
As many as 57 claims were received from Heggadadevanakote taluk and 14 were considered. Fifteen applications were received from Periyapatna taluk, of which five were accepted. None of the 30 claims from Hunsur taluk and five from Nanjangud taluk were considered.
The Forest Rights committee receive the applications first and names of the beneficiaries are decided in the gram sabha meetings. It then goes to the sub-divisional committee and finally, the district-level committee.
The shortage of surveyors has hampered the joint GPS survey operations required to be taken up by the Revenue, Forest and ITDP departments to ascertain the veracity of claims. Admitting this, Mr. Gowda said he had written to tahsildars, assistant conservators of forests and taluk social welfare officers to hasten the process.