TN: AIKS Demands Withdrawal of Conditions Imposed to use Land Allocated Under FRA
Representational image.( File Image)
The beneficiaries of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) in Tamil Nadu have raised concerns over the conditions for utilising the land.
As per the land enjoyment orders handed over, the forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers are prohibited from levelling the lands and carrying out construction works.
The order also warns that the right to enjoyment would be cancelled if the beneficiaries violate the conditions prescribed in the orders. Around 9,000 beneficiaries have received land titles with the same conditionalities, even though the FRA does not prescribe anything for the land allotment to tribals and traditional forest dwellers.
The Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), has raised questions over the conditions prescribed by the respective district forest departments, which it claims to be against the FRA itself.
The AIKS has submitted a memorandum to the Adidravidar and Tribal Welfare department, seeking to quash the conditions prescribed and eradicate the slackness in implementing the FRA in the state.
PURPOSE OF FRA VIOLATED
Chapter III, section 31(a) of FRA, titled 'Forest Rights', reads as follows, "Right to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or self-cultivation for livelihood by a member or members of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers."
Contrary to this right ensured by the FRA, the orders issued to beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu have laid out conditions which include the ban on cutting trees, levelling the lands and construction activities.
P Shanmugam, the state president of AIKS, questioned the purpose of allocating land and enjoyment rights to the beneficiaries.
"Is the land provided for the tribals and traditional fsorest dwellers to just see it? Why are the state government officials laying out conditions when the FRA has no such provisions," he said.
The order issued by the forest department to the officials has claimed that the beneficiaries are not permitted to carry out such activities as per section 5 of the FRA. But the section titled 'Duties of holders of forest lands' instructs the beneficiaries to preserve the natural and cultural heritage from destructive practices.
"The conditions are prescribed out of the wrong interpretation of the act. We have urged the concerned officials to modify the current orders and ensure such things are not repeated in the orders to be issued in future", Shanmugan said.
DELAY IN IMPLEMENTING FRA
In Tamil Nadu, implementing the FRA has been sluggish as only around 9,000 tribals and traditional forest dwellers have been allocated land so far. The state has been the worst performer, with more rejections of applications. Until June 22, only 8,144 titles had been distributed out of the 33,700 individual claims.
The AIKS has alleged that the applications for the allocation of enjoyment rights and titles have been pending for more than a decade.
"The authorities, when approached for speedy action, claim that the shortage of surveyors is the reason for the delay in the distribution of land. The implementation of the act is the duty of the government; efforts must be taken to utilise the services of retired surveyors to complete the process within a stipulated time," a letter submitted to the secretary of Adidravidar and Tribal Welfare by the AIKS reads.
The organisation also urged the state government to allocate and hand over eligible quantities of land to the tribals and forest dwellers and ensure the FRA is being implemented in letter and spirit.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.