Oxfam India pushes for proper implementation of FRA in Chhattisgarh

Oxfam India pushes for proper implementation of FRA in Chhattisgarh

The Tribal Development Department, Government of Chhattisgarh, organised a one day workshop to highlight the importance of correct implementation of the Forest Rights Act 
(FRA), 2006. The workshop held on 3 June 2019 at Zila Panchayat, Ambikapur, was attended by District Level Committees (DLCs) and Sub-Divisional Committees (SDLCs); six DLCs and 18 SDLCs were present at the meeting. 

DLCs and SDLCs are instrumental in recognising and vesting of rights as mandated under the Act. While a DLC is chaired by the District Collector, assistant commissioners of the Tribal Department serve as secretaries. 

As part of the workshop, Vijendra Aznabi from Oxfam India spoke about the roles and responsibilities of DLCs and SDLCs as mandated in the Act. He also shared the Oxfam India publication, a quick guide to understanding the Act and the working of the Gram Sabha. The booklet well appreciated by the Chief Minister, was distributed amongst all the MLAs and officials present at the workshop. 

The session was attended by Bhupesh Baghel, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Sunil Kuzur, Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, Prem Singh Tekam, Minister of Tribal Development, T.S. Singh Deo, Minister of Panchayat, RP Mandal, Principal Secretary, Panchayat, Rakesh Chaturvedi, Head of Forest Bureaucracy and other MLAs of the region.

In his address, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel emphasized on people’s reluctance towards understanding the law and how it hampers effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act. He advised participants to read the book, pointing towards the booklet published by Oxfam. “Those who have been conserving and protecting the forest cannot be evicted from their land,” said the Chief Minister. 

READ MOBILISING FOREST DWELLING COMMUNITIES TO CLAIM THEIR FOREST RIGHTS

Sunil Kuzur reassured that the State Government will file an affidavit in the Supreme Court before the next hearing in July, seeking more time to justify the rejection of claims. He added that not a single rejection will be reported without adequate reasonable reason. T.S. Singh Deo said, “Forest Rights Committee (FRCs) will be re-constituted at the Gram Sabha Level, which facilitates the recognition process, to avoid conflict with other villages.”

Gangaram Paikra from Chaupal, one of Oxfam India’s partner organisations, made a presentation on the status of Pahari Korwa (PVTGs) and their special needs with respect to implementing the FRA. The meeting was attended by several prominent members of the Chhattisgarh Van Adhikar Manch and forest rights activists. 
 

This blog is written by Vijendra Aznabi, Programme Officer, Oxfam India, Chhattisgarh.
He can be reached at vijendra@oxfamindia.org.

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