The wait of tribal communities in forest settlements in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve to secure titles for the agricultural land they have been tilling for generations continues.
Though the Forest Department has completed survey of land holdings in the STR settlements, Supreme Court’s verdict in a case pertaining to implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 in Tamil Nadu is awaited for handing over the titles, official sources said.
The provision in the Act for granting titles that empowered cultivators to transfer the rights to their descendents but did not permit sale, would benefit residents of forest settlements in STR: Uginiyam, Ramaranai, Uppupallam, Nandhipuram, Vilankombai and Kembanur. A total of 430 titles would be distributed, once the judgement was delivered.
Since the Act had already been implemented in several other States, the Forest Department completed measurements for close to 340 hectares for grant of titles to cultivators in its settlements. Though a title would be a tangible symbol of land ownership, the Forest Department had been facilitating the cultivators to avail the utility of loan, subsidy and other benefits under government schemes, said K. Rajkumar, District Forest Officer of Sathyamangalam Division, said.
The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, he said, was keen on early conversion of forest villages into revenue villages under the Forest Rights Act that provided a participatory role for forest department officials in committees to be constituted at different levels for implementation.
The Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu is the Chairperson of the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) constituted under the Act to ensure establishment of gram sabhas, and constitution of Forest Rights Committees.