Khoj Evam Jan Jagriti Samiti (KHOJ)

Project Theme

Natural Resource Management

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 Apr 2015 - 31 Mar 2016

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Introduction

KHOJ has been working in the district of Gariyaband and Dhamtari of Chhattisgarh, largely with Kamar Adivasi (a notified PVTG by the Govt of India) on the issue of right to land, forest, malnutrition and food security etc. 

Gariyaband is a newly created district in 2012, bifurcated from Raipur district. Bordering western part of Odisha, Gariyaband district lies between the central plains of Chhattisgarh and the Bastar plateau. The district rich in forest resources and known for the diamond (kimberlite) reserves has substantial adivasi population, largely Gonds, Bhujia and Kamar in 3 blocks, which comes under fifth schedule area, having special provision for safeguarding interests of Scheduled Tribes. Dhamtari district is adjacent district to Gariyaband with 26% adivasi population and ‘Tiger Reserve’ with substantially dense forest. The district known for rice production, rice mills and reservoirs have substantial forest base in Nagri-Sihava block inhibited by Kamar tribes lives in wretched condition. Due to negligence and apathy of the Government officials, Kamar are facing existential crisis of their identity and culture with dwindling number of population. 

Advent of FRA brought some hope to Adivasi community as it envisioned by addressing the historical injustices to the community by recognizing their rights over forest and forestland. The Act provisioned for entitlement of land upto 10 acres having possession over it before Dec 2005. But, the Act prescribed more rights for the community, including ownership over forest produces, cultural practices, fishing, and management of resources. The Act has substantial potential to give community’s control over resources and to enhance their livelihood based on forest. It may change the life of adivasi community, who is still largely based on agriculture and allied activities in and around forest. 

In the project area, like other adivasi areas in Chhattisgarh, individual entitlements to the adivasi families get the entitlement under FRA, commonly known as Van Adhikar Patra. But, there lies a huge problem. The title have been provided arbitrarily, without having proper approval from the Gram Sabha and by constituting the village forest rights committee without consent of Gram Sabha at appropriate level. The titles are provided in haste without checks with record and delineation of boundary. The biggest flaw is where most of the claimants are left without title, and most of them who received the titles are having insufficient mention of land presently under occupation. The distribution of entitlement hasn’t resolved the long-standing conflict of forest department regarding location of land, plantations on cultivable land and the right to access.  

Gram Sabha is being mobilize for proper filing of claims, verification through FRCs and approve the claim, which can be sanctioned by DLC at district level. Adequate advocacy effort is required to sensitize the government officials, particularly the forest dept and the district collector to ensure proper implementation of Act and ensure justice to the community.

As far as CFR are concerned, the situation is much bleak in Gariyaband and Dhamtari. So far, the community titles provided permits forest land to be given to panchayats required for development needs, like access to road, land for public facilities, school and other govt building etc. But the title under sec 3(1) of the Act, which recognizes rights related to livelihood on forest and forestland, has not been provided in the districts. However, some claims have been submitted by the community in various places with proper mapping of traditional boundary of forest under community usage, but that all were pending at different level and offices due to apathy and negligence.

The proposed project intended to make forest dweller’s community aware of their community rights on Forest, its benefits and its overall impact on their lives.  The project will initiate adequate strategy plan to address the gaps in implementation of Act by enabling the community to prepare their community claims and to submit them to the concerned authorities.

 

About the Project: 

In the proposed project, KHOJ intended to address the gaps exist in implementation of legislations, like FRA and PESA, which have strong potential to provide the forest dependent adivasi community to govern the control over resources and to strengthen their livelihood to improve their standard of life. 

To achieve the level of awareness among the community and their institutions such as Gram Sabha, Forest Rights Committee, Forest Management Committees and Cooperatives, various trainings, workshops and meetings will be organise. Moreover the project will also work on strengthening Forest Rights Committees so that they can assist the community and Gram Sabha to file the claims and part of process of verification. Later, the same committee can transform themselves along-with other members as community forest management committee, which can handle the overall management of the community forest resources, as envisages under the Act. The traditional forest dwellers have been conferred with the right to manage community forest resources and thereby to manage bio diversity. It will also with limited extent attempt to sort out injustice happened at household level through motivate the community and the FRCs to take action for rectifying the IFR titles. 

The staff and the cadres of KHOJ will also be orient to take the project forward efficiently. As this is a knowledge intensive work and required deep understanding of Forest Right Act, PESA and Panchayati Raj Act.

 

Results to be Achieved / Impact: 

The proposed project is aimed at enabling the adivasi forest dweller community to practice their rights of having control over natural resources for conservation, protection and management of natural resources and also enhancement of their livelihood. 

To aware the community, particularly Kamar Adivasi forest dwellers on their right to natural resources enshrined in legislations like FRA, PESA and enabling legislations like MGNREGA. 

To empower community institutions, like Gram Sabha, Forest Rights Committees, and community forest management committees to govern and practice control over natural resources.  

To seek accountability from enforcement agencies accountable for facilitating rights of the community over natural resources, including forest rights. 

To develop greater community interface with government agencies to ensure increase in public investment for strengthening natural resource based livelihood.

 

Outcomes: We have so far achieved (Achivements):

It’s a new project initiating this year.