Titles given for just 50% of the total claims on forest land

Data presented in the Rajya Sabha by the Tribal Affairs Ministry show that individual claims have higher rates of rejection or pendency than community claims

December 14, 2022 10:12 pm | Updated December 15, 2022 01:00 am IST - NEW DELHI

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi.

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union government on Wednesday revealed in the Rajya Sabha that under the Forest Rights Act of 2006, titles had been given for just 50% of the total claims on forest land received till June this year from members of Scheduled Tribe communities and other traditional forest dwellers. 

The data showed that a total of 44.46 lakh claims have been made for title rights over forest land (both individual and community), against which title rights have been issued for just 22.35 lakh. 

Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda tabled this data in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday in response to a question from CPI (M) member Elamaram Kareem. Just a few hours later, he went ahead to insist in the Upper House that his government is committed to sorting land rights for tribals and tribal communities. 

Also read: What is Forest Rights Act?

During the discussion on a Bill later in the day, Mr. Munda said that the BJP-led government was in fact correcting the errors of previous Congress governments, “under whose rule, tribal lands were snatched away in the garb of industrial revolution”. The government was fully committed to providing and expediting as many community land claims over forest land as possible, he added.

Responding to Mr. Kareem’s query, Mr. Munda presented data showing that individual claims had the highest rates of pendency and rejection. Of the total 42.76 lakh individual claims over forest land under the FRA, title rights had been issued to just 21.33 lakh claimants. In comparison, of the total 1.69 lakh community claims, title rights had been issued in 1.02 lakh cases. 

It also showed that some States had a larger gap than others between the number of claims and the number of titles distributed. For instance, in Bihar, just 121 titles had been distributed against over 8,000 individual claims; in Uttarakhand, just one title had been distributed against over 3,000 community claims over forest land; in Tamil Nadu, just 8,144 titles had been given out against over 33,700 individual claims; and in West Bengal, just 686 titles had been distributed against over 10,000 community claims. 

Mr. Munda said that while the respective State and Union Territory governments are responsible for the implementation of the FRA with respect to land claims as per the rules and procedure set out in the Act, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs was “committed to ensure implementation of the Act in accordance with the Act and Rules thereunder”, for which it keeps issuing advisories and guidelines to the States from time to time besides holding meetings and conferences. 

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