Bengaluru

State moving at a snail’s pace to improve lot of tribals

The end of 2015 should have brought some cheer to forest-dwelling tribals of Karnataka, as December 31 was the deadline to distribute title deeds to eligible tribal people and communities for ownership of land. But, Karnataka has been classified one of the worst performers in achieving this.

Seven years after the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Dwellers (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act, 2006, came into force (which was notified in 2008), the State government is still moving at a snail’s pace in extending benefits to tribal families in 27 districts.

Consider this: of the 2,88,579 applications received from Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) and community right seekers, a meagre 8,705 have got title deeds by the end of November 2015. While 1,12,072 applications have been rejected, the rest are “pending”. The Tribal Joint Action Forum (TJAF) is demanding a “review of the applications” that have been rejected.

The deadline for distribution of title deeds to the tribal community has been extended twice. The Union government had earlier set the deadline of December 31, 2014, for State governments to distribute title deeds to eligible applicants. Considering the slow pace of work, the Centre extended the deadline to December 31, 2015. According to statistics available, the government is yet to dispose, 1,67,802 applications.

When contacted, Vasanth Kumar, Director, Directorate of Scheduled Tribe Welfare, attributed the delay in implementation of the Forest Rights Act to elections to the Legislative Council from local bodies. “Though deputy commissioners have expedited the process of disposing of applications by December 31, and they have sought another two months in view of the Council polls. We have appealed to the Centre to extend the deadline,” he said.

Jual Oram, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, in his letter written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in October 2015, had asked the government to “proactively pursue progress in vesting and recognition of forest rights in a time-bound manner”, and asked to lay stress on training and motivation of all field-level functionaries involved in implementation of the Act. The letter also states that Karnataka is one among nine States where “implementation of the Act has been slow”.

The TJAF is hoping to present a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Mysuru on Sunday on the issue.

In the memorandum, it is stated that tribal population in most parts of State has been waiting “endlessly” after submitting applications. Some tribals have rejected title deeds as they were allocated land in terms of guntas, while they are eligible for land up to four hectares.




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