Coimbatore tribal settlements get Community Forest Rights

This is the first in the State wherein GPS-based land survey is done to accord CFR to tribal people

December 12, 2022 08:47 pm | Updated December 13, 2022 07:58 am IST - COIMBATORE

Tribesmen with a GPS device used for the mapping of areas for Community Forest Rights in Coimbatore Forest Division.

Tribesmen with a GPS device used for the mapping of areas for Community Forest Rights in Coimbatore Forest Division. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Over 15 years after the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 came into effect, 13 tribal settlements from Pilloor and Palamalai forest areas in Coimbatore district were recently accorded Community Forest Rights (CFR) after the forest areas they dwell and collect minor produces from for generations were mapped using GPS-based land survey.

Officials involved in the year-long process said this was the first case in the State wherein GPS-based land survey was done to accord CFR to forest dwellers.

The CFR were given to two clusters of settlements, namely Maanar, Korapadhi, Kethaikadu, Veerakkal, Sundapatti and Veppamarathoor in Pilloor within the limits of Karamadai forest range and Perumpathi, Perukkupathi, Perukkupathiputhur, Kunjurpathi, Maanguli, Pasumpaniputhur and Pasumpani in Palamalai in Periyanaickenpalayam forest range.

The areas fall under Mettupalayam and Coimbatore north taluks of Coimbatore north division and the entire process was done by the Revenue Department, Coimbatore Forest Division and Keystone Foundation with complete participation of tribal people.

District Collector G.S. Sameeran said GPS-based mapping for according CFR was adopted from a similar process done in Vazhachal Forest Division in Thrissur district, Kerala.

“It took a year to complete the entire process involving survey of areas, grama sabha sessions, dispute management and documentation works before smoothly handing over the CFR to the communities. According CFR under the FRA is an endorsement of their existing rights in the forest,” he said.

Maps prepared using the GPS-based survey were handed over to the community heads.

K. Booma, Revenue Divisional Officer for Coimbatore north, who took the lead in the process, said the GPS-based survey was carried out by trained tribesmen themselves getting into dense forest areas along with Moopan of each settlement to show the traditional collection points. Forest Department staff accompanied them during the treks.

According to Ms. Booma, CFR will secure the livelihood of the settlements whose income largely depends on forest resources.

Residents from these settlements used to collect minor forest produce including arappu, honey, tamarind, grass for boom making, shikkakai, kadukkai, pochakai, mango and amla. Now, they can collect these produce from the forest without paying the nominal fee they used to pay to the Village Forest Committee before.

“The CFR was given to the 13 settlements as two clusters – Pilloor and Palamalai – as they agreed to share the areas. They have also been given the right of way to 29 temples and three traditional burial grounds. Overall, CFR will help them improve their livelihood. It also protects their cultural rights,” she said.

District Forest Officer T.K. Ashok Kumar said an awareness session was conducted for the Department staff for better understanding of the FRA and the CFR before starting the process.

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