Skip to main content

Less than 5% of tribals' forest rights "recognized" in India, no mechanism to ensure land ownership to women

By Asavari Sharma and Gaurav Madan
A new report, “Promise and Performance – Ten Years of the Forest Rights Act (FRA)”, released at a recent national convention in Delhi, has revealed that less than 5% of rights out of a total of over 200 million tribals and other traditional forest dwellers for about 34.6 million hectares (ha) in India has been so far recognized.
The report, released as part of the Community Forest Rights Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA) process of the convention, highlights that empowering provisions of FRA for ensuring forest rights of women are being ignored by implementing agencies.
The report recommends creating a dedicated mechanism for effective implementation of FRA provisions to ensure ownership rights for women and equal participation in the decision making process for management of community forest resource (CFR) areas.
The convention was held to mark the the tenth anniversary of FRA on December 14 in order to focus on failure of state institutions to recognise the rights of tribal and other traditional forest dwellers – particularly women – and examine the ongoing challenges in the implementation of FRA.
Speaking on the report, KP Soma, head of the gender subgroup of CFR-LA, said, “Only 3% of the potential for rights recognition through FRA has so far been actually achieved. Unfortunately, there is no disaggregated data for women’s forest rights.”
Pointing out that “women have taken an active role in the FRA process”, Soma added, “We demand that women should have a rightful say on how resources for forest development, protection, and conservation are spent through gender budgeting.”
Present on the occasion, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, the Chairperson of the National Commission of Women (NCW), heard testimonies on the violation of forest rights of women across states.
“Without water, forests and land, we cannot survive. Women have been protecting forests for generations, and with FRA, we were hopeful that our rights would be recognised,” a community leader from Badkagaon in Jharkhand, Lakshmi, said. “But instead, today, when we try to assert our right to access our own forests, we are beaten up and arrested.”
Such stories of violence against women were echoed by other community members from across India. Testimonies from Uttarakhand revealed instances of violence by forest department officials, resulting in the hospitalisation of women and destruction of homes of villagers claiming titles under FRA.
Testimonies also highlighted threats to food security posed by commercial plantations on cultivation land through compensatory afforestation and other plantation programmes.
“Plantation of teak and eucalyptus by the forest department has reduced our area for cultivation. Previously we would grow 70-80 different types of millets. Now this variety has been reduced, causing a crisis in food security and nutrition,” said Basanti Majhi, a member of the Kutia Kondh community, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
Reacting to the testimonies, Kumaramangalam stressed on the need for joint titling and recognition of land and forest rights for women under FRA, while calling for systemic change in patriarchal attitudes prevailing in society.
“We should be empowering women as equal partners over forests and land to ensure not only their participation but also decision making,” she said, even as ensuring the meet that NCW would investigate any cases brought forward related to the violation of women’s rights, including violation of FRA.
The convention identified the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 as a potential cause of violation of FRA. While FRA mandates Gram Sabha consent for the use of community forest land, the CAF Act returns to a more centralised governance framework, allowing the Central and state governments to control over Rs 42,000 crore crore, collected from industries to compensate for forest diversions.
“All funds for development, reforestation, or conservation purposes should be given to Gram Sabhas. The FRA was enacted to address historical injustices against tribal and forest dwelling communities. Communities must recognize their own rights and assert these rights,” said legal scholar Usha Ramanathan.

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.