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Rights of Forest-Dwellers

  • Prelims: Environment, Thanthai Periyar Sanctuary, Recognition of Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA)
  • Mains: General Studies-III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Why in News ?

The notification of the Thanthai Periyar Sanctuary in Erode district of Tamil Nadu triggered consternation among forest-dwellers around it. They expressed fear that this is a prelude to their rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA) being denied.


Concept of Revenue Villages : 

    • In 1990, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had ordered that all forest villages be converted to revenue villages.
    • The FRA, also required all forest villages to be converted to revenue villages.
    • During conversion, “the actual land use of the village in its entirety, including lands required for current or future community uses, like schools, health facilities and public spaces,” were to be recorded as part of the revenue village.
Forest Rights Act, 2006 and its Provisions :
    • The Act recognizes and vests the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
    • Forest rights can also be claimed by any member or community who has for at least three generations (75 years) prior to the 13th day of December, 2005 primarily resided in forest land for bona fide livelihood needs.
    • It strengthens the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the FDST and OTFD.
    • The Gram Sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of Individual Forest Rights (IFR) or Community Forest Rights (CFR) or both that may be given to FDST and OTFD.
      • Title rights: It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares. Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family and no new lands will be granted.
      • Use rights: The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas etc.
      • Relief and development rights: To rehabilitate in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
      • Forest management rights: It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.

Supreme Court On Forest Dwellers:

Supreme Court in Godavarman versus Union of India stated that “the historical injustice done to the tribal forest dwellers through non-recognition of their traditional rights must be finally rectified”

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, of 1972 provides a legal framework for the protection of various species of wild animals and plants, management of their habitats, regulation, and control of trade in wild animals, plants, and products made from them

  • Schedule I:

    • It covers endangered species that need rigorous protection.
    • A person is liable to the harshest penalties for violation of the law under this Schedule.
    • Species under this Schedule are prohibited to be hunted throughout India, except under threat to human life or in case of a disease that is beyond recovery.
    • Some of the animals listed under Schedule I include the Black BuckSnow Leopard, Himalayan Bear and Asiatic Cheetah.
  • Schedule II:

    • Animals under this list are also accorded high protection with the prohibition on their trade.
    • Some of the animals listed under Schedule II include Assamese Macaque, Himalayan Black Bear and Indian Cobra.
  • Schedule III & IV:

    • Species that are not endangered are included under Schedule III and IV.
    • This includes protected species with hunting prohibited but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the first two schedules.
    • Animals protected under Schedule III include Chital (spotted deer), Bharal (blue sheep), Hyena, and Sambhar (deer).
    • Animals protected under Schedule IV include Flamingo, Hares, Falcons, Kingfishers, Magpie, and Horseshoes Crabs.
  • Schedule V:

    • This schedule contains animals that are considered as vermin (small wild animals that carry disease and destroy plants and food). These animals can be hunted.
    • It includes only four species of wild animals: Common Crows, Fruit Bats, Rats, and Mice.
  • Schedule VI:

    • It provides for regulation in the cultivation of a specified plant and restricts its possession, sale, and transportation.
    • Both cultivation and trade of specified plants can only be carried out with the prior permission of the competent authority.
    • Plants protected under Schedule VI include Beddomes’ cycad (Native to India), Blue Vanda (Blue Orchid), Red Vanda (Red Orchid), Kuth (Saussurea lappa), Slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.) and Pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana).

Source: TH

PYQ/ FAQ related to Topic: 

At the national level, which ministry is the nodal agency to ensure effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006?

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(b) Ministry of Panchayati Raj
(c) Ministry of Rural Development
(d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Ans: d. Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Explaination :

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, also referred to as the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, recognizes the rights of the forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources.
  • The Act encompasses Rights of self-cultivation and habitation which are usually regarded as individual rights; and community rights as grazing, fishing and access to Water bodies in forests, habitat rights for PVTGs, etc.
  • In conjunction with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Settlement Act, 2013, FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.
  • As per the provisions of the Act and the rules framed there under, various schemes and projects are implemented under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

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