Implementing the Forest Rights Act: Addressing a Historical Injustice
In 2006, the Forest Rights Act departed from a history of suppression by recognising customary rights of forest dwellers. Communities that had earlier been considered as encroachers were allowed to claim their rights over ancestral land. The total number of claims exceeded expectations of policy makers by far, even as community claims remained very low. But the overall implementation of the Act has not lived up to promises: inadequate community awareness, conflicting legislations, the lack of devoted staff, and issues of governance have undermined a reform that will, if implemented properly, transform regions ridden by extreme poverty and political violence.