Maharashtra modifies Forest Rights Act

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday issued a notification modifying the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 that will enable tribals and other traditional forest dwelling families to build houses in the neighbourhood forest areas.

The decision is likely to provide a major relief to Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest-dwelling families residing in the scheduled areas of the State.

The move aims to prevent the migration of forest-dwelling families outside their native villages and provide them housing areas by extending the village site into forest land in their neighbourhood.

The notification has been issued by the Governor using his powers under sub paragraph (1) of paragraph 5 of the Schedule V of the Constitution, according to a statement issued by Raj Bhavan.

The notification is the result of the consistent efforts of Vayam — a community-based organisation — working for the empowerment of tribal communities in Palghar and Nashik districts.

Milind Thatte, founder of Vayam and a member of the Governor’s Tribes Advisory Council said, “The amendment is a landmark one as it assures the human rights of housing to all tribal population — especially the current generation — that has built houses after 2005.”

During his visits to Palghar, Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and other districts having scheduled areas, it had come to the notice of the Governor that certain scheduled tribes and forest-dwelling families in the scheduled areas were moving outside their native villages and migrating elsewhere in the absence of housing areas for their growing families.

“The FRA recognises rights to habitation and cultivation on forest lands if the land were occupied before December 13, 2005. The forest department officers in Jawahar division held that all new houses built in tribal habitations on forest land were illegal and had filed criminal offences and scheduled demolition,” said Mr. Thatte, adding that it was natural, as the population grows, that there would be new houses built.

“The urban areas get increased FSI, the rural areas (on revenue lands) get Gaothan Vistaar Yojana, but tribal villages (on forest lands) have no legal space for building houses. PESA rules in the State have given recognition to many habitations as villages, but there is no provision for land for house-building,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 7:20:19 PM |

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