Forest Rights Act
India's forests are home to millions of people, including many Scheduled Tribes, who live in or near the forest areas of the country. Forests provide sustenance in the form of minor forest produce, water, grazing grounds and habitat for shifting cultivation.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed in India on December 18, 2006. The Act was notified into force on December 31, 2007. On January 1, 2008, this was followed by the notification of the Rules framed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to supplement the procedural aspects of the Act. The tribals, the weaker section of our society are going to benefit from it in a lot of ways.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development has been entrusted with the responsibility for implementing the Act and accordinlgy process has been initiated for the same.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the SDLC, DLC and SLMC under the Act has been constituted. Unlike the other States of Indian Union where the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers are in minority and socio economically marginalized by other dominant non-tribal population, the State of Arunachal Pradesh is wholly domiciled by various ethnic tribal groups whose land and forests are specifically identified with natural boundaries of hillocks, ranges, rivers and tributaries. Barring few pockets of land under wildlife sanctuaries, reserved forests, most of the land in entire State is community land. Territorial boundaries of land and forest belonging to one community or tribes from the others are also identified in the same line leaving no scopes for any dispute over the possession of land forest or water bodies among the tribes.
The Act grants four types of rights: Title rights (ownership) - to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers as on December 13, 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted Use rights - to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc. Relief and development rights - to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection. Forest management rights - to protect forests and wildlife.