State Consultation Meeting on Forest Rights Act 2006

State Consultation Meeting on Forest Rights Act 2006

Oxfam India under the Economic Justice OAK Project in Jharkhand collaborated with civil society organisations including Naya Savera Vikas Kendra (NSVK, Hazaribagh), Birsa Mines Monitoring Centre, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Phia Foundation, Badlao Foundation, academic institutes like Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (TISS), National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi, and networks including The Bharat Van Adhikar Manch & Jharkhand Van Adhikar Manch to initiate a collective state advocacy on effective implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006.

In 2018, Oxfam India in alliance with these key stakeholders had conducted a research in six districts of Jharkhand (Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Giridhi, Godda, Gumla, Dumka & West Singhbhum) to understand the potential of the Forest Rights Act and its performance in Jharkhand. Based on the analysis, a Charter of Demands on FRA 2006 was prepared with the support of evidences and facts from the field. The Birsa Mines Monitoring Centre in consultation with other civil society organisations working on FRA, specifically on mining & its impact on forest land, decided to further share this Charter of Demands with legislative members. They interacted with party members from Congress, RJD, JMM, and APP and educated them on the existing loopholes in their district’s implementation status of the FRA 2006 and the unwillingness of the administration to review and monitor procedures for approval of claims (IFR & CFR) processed through the gram sabha.  

This year, this alliance of CSOs, academic institutes, local networks, and legislative members collectively responded to the 13 February’19 SC order on eviction of forest dwelling communities by carrying out a Pad Yatra on 19 March’19 to meet the Governor of Jharkhand and submit the People’s Memorandum on FRA. They also proactively participated in their respective district’s review at the DLC and SDLC level.

The central government announced amendment of the Indian Forest Act 1927, which ultimately violates the rights of the gram sabha and limits the accessibility of forest dwelling communities to forests. Reflecting on this, Oxfam India in collaboration with CSOs organised a state level consultation meeting with legislative members on 14 Oct’19 to discuss current issues related to the FRA 2006 and the threats that lay over forest dwelling communities, who are totally dependent on forest land for their survival.

Purpose of the programme

  • Constituency wise insight sharing on potential of Forest Rights Act 2006 and its performance in Jharkhand, to prioritise alarming issues of mining on forest land and its diversion for development activities, and dissemination of the Charter of Demands on effective implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 in Jharkhand.
  • Understanding the Supreme Court order and proceeding hearings on eviction of lakhs of forest dwelling community from forests; the proposed amendment on Indian Forest Act 1927 contradicted the recognised rights of forest dwelling communities under FRA 2006.
  • To ensure incorporation of the Charter of Demands on FRA 2006 in the coming Vidhna Sabha Election manifesto agenda of all party members. With regard to this proposed Charter of Demands, an open house session was facilitated for legislative members to know their opinion on the same.

Key outcomes

  • All party members agreed to incorporate the Charter of Demands on FRA 2006 in their election manifesto.
  • Shri Gautam Sagar Rana (State President, RJD) proposed to have a collective alliance meeting with the Governor of Jharkhand to address the long-pending issue of the Tribe’s Development Report in the state.
  • Naman Vikasal Kongadi, MLA, Congress, requested civil society organisations to facilitate another state consultation on FRA so as to orient all party members in an organised way before the elections. By doing so, the same would then communicated to people at the gram sabha level during election visits by party members, thus resulting in a mass mobilisation that could help campaign against the political scenario in Jharkhand.
  • All party members of Congress, RJD, AAP, and JMM agreed to be part of the process.
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