NGOs concerned over eviction of forest dwellers

NGO representatives staging a protest   against the moves of the administration to evict tribal people from forest areas, in Hyderabad on Monday .

NGO representatives staging a protest against the moves of the administration to evict tribal people from forest areas, in Hyderabad on Monday .

Representatives of various people’s organisations working for the cause of forest rights have demanded that the government treat the rejected claims filed under the Forest Rights Act as suo motu appeals and review them at gram sabhas, district and State-level committees.

The government should not make any attempts to evict tribal households from the forest areas until the verification of the claims is completed and necessary instructions should be issued to the district Collectors concerned in this regard.

Steps should also be taken to either suspend or temporarily repeal all conflicting policies and programmes like diversion of forest lands for various public purposes without the consent of gram sabhas until the review is completed, they said.

The representatives of the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Human Rights Forum, Dalit Bahujan Front, Telangana Praja Front, Telangana Rythanga Samiti and National Alliance of People’s Movements expressed concern over the Supreme Court order (dated February 13) seeking eviction of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims had been rejected under the FRA. The order was subsequently put on hold and the case is coming up for hearing in the apex court on Tuesday.

According to them, a total of 1,86,679 claims had been filed under the FRA in Telangana of which, 83,757 claims, constituting 44%, had been rejected.

The officials concerned however did not specify the reasons for their rejection to the claimants either in person or in writing enabling the claimants to file appeals within 60 days and this is a matter of serious concern. Coupled with this are the attempts to include the recent Supreme Court judgement into the FRA and amendments proposed to the Indian Forests Act abrogating forest rights and allow creation of private production forests.

The proposed amendments are aimed at giving police and semi-judicial powers to the Forest Department with immunity against atrocities and sexual violence. The Telangana government too is contemplating similar amendments to the Forests Act which is aimed at systematic dilution of the progressive provisions of the FRA. They demanded that survey and demarcation could be undertaken for clearing all pending revenue-forest boundary disputes within a specified time frame to settle the outstanding FRA claims speedily.

At the same time, the government should make public habitation-wise data related to the number and extent of both individual and community forest claims filed from all the districts across the State, they said.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 1:56:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/ngos-concerned-over-eviction-of-forest-dwellers/article28663557.ece