WITH LAND RIGHTS, BUT NO LAND
ISSUE: The J&K government has now decided to implement the FRA (Forest Right Act), 2006 after long failure of erstwhile governments of Jammu and Kashmir to provide tribal population their Forest rights. This deprivation is one of the major causes of their marginalization.
BACKGROUND: Forest rights have been a dominant feature of Tribal politics of Jammu and Kashmir but the issue has remained largely neglected by mainstream political parties leading to deprivation of rights of the Adivasis.
NEED OF FOREST RIGHTS
According to the 2011 Census, Scheduled Tribes form 11.9% of Jammu and Kashmir’s population. Prominent tribes like Gujjars and Bakerwal mostly depend on forest land for their livelihoods and shelter and most of them don’t own any land or shelters. Thus, extension of FRA, 2006 will provide tribals:
- access and ownership rights
- forest-based livelihood rights
- minor forest produces rights
CHALLENGES IN PROVIDING FOREST RIGHTS
- Despite their significant vote share, there has been a lack of Political representation of the Adivasis, which has resulted in the dependence of the Adivasis on the non-tribal leaders for their issues and demands. Mainstream political parties were never keen in implementation of rights.
- There has been an issue of the eviction of the Adivasis due Roshni act, 2001 being declared null and void due to questionable transfer of ownership of state land to many influential people and also to local Adivasis.
- J&k has set up Forest right committees to survey the claimant for their rights. However due to its implementation issue there has been enhanced eviction of the Adivasis from their own lands. This has alleviated fears of displacement and disempowerment among the Adivasis.
- Adivasis may find it difficult to prove their ownership rights, amid such eviction.
- The problem is further aggravated due to the fact that eviction and demolition drive against nomads is being done without any rehabilitation plans in place.
- Need of the hour is to ensure that there is sufficient political representation of the Adivasis to raise their voices. This was among the one of the objectives for abrogation of the J&K’s special status.
- Proper rehabilitation plan should be in place before eviction.
- Recognition of the Community rights of the Adivasis.
- Clear cut deadline for recognising the Forest rights of forest dwellers in sync with rest of India.