Bhopal: In the wake of Supreme Court’s order on Forest Right Act (FRA), by July this year, 2.26 lakh tribal families living in the forest lands in Madhya Pradesh will become homeless. The tribals will be asked to leave their homeland.
Overall 6,17,090 families had made claims under different categories under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers or OTFDs (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), 2006 in Madhya Pradesh. The state rejected as many as 2,53,742 claims under different categories – which comes to around 59 per cent – in total.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Navin Sinha, Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee, has directed the state governments to ensure eviction of around two million people from the forest area spread across 17 states. As per the February 13 order, which was made available to the public on February 20, the evictions have to be carried out latest by July 27.
Now, the SC order threatens to deprive 2.26 lakh tribals and other forest dwellers of their rights.
It is worth mentioning here that The Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 grants legal recognition to the land and livelihood rights of forest dwellers. The Act recognises the rights of the forest dwellers to live on the forest land, to gather forest resources like fruits, leaves, firewood and others, trade them, and to conserve forest resources as per their traditional practices.
The new SC order has created a panic among the tribal population as well as among the people fighting for their rights.
According to the implementation report of the Madhya Pradesh government made for FRA by March 30, 2018, claims under the FRA were divided in three categories – tribal habitants, traditional dwellers and land demanded for community purpose. Claims of 2,23,009 tribal people and 3,159 traditional dwellers were rejected, bringing the total number of families to be evicted to 2,26,168.
As per the SC’s ruling on FRA, chief secretary of the state has to file a sworn affidavit with the apex court before July 27, stating implementation of the court’s decision.
Following the court order, more than 11 lakh families, whose claim is rejected under FRA, will have to move out of their homes by July 27, the next date of hearing. The court has said that the matter would be viewed seriously if eviction isn’t carried out.
Earlier, the Tribal Welfare Ministry had written to the states on June 27, 2018 for arbitrarily rejecting the forest rights of STs and OTFDs without informing the Centre about the same.
On the one hand, the claims were rejected without citing proper reasons; on the other hand, the legislators framed the FRA in 2006 to safeguard the rights of the tribals and OTFDs. Even today, several forest rights claims are delayed, rejected or granted with added conditions in the state, especially in terms of movement of minor forest produce.
Total claims under FRA in MP: