VIJAYAWADA: Forest department officials were asked to strive for clearing 29,193 pending applications, which is 14 per cent of the total applications, submitted by the tribals under the Forest Rights Act, after completing necessary surveys.Minister for Forests Sidda Raghava Rao and Minister for Social Welfare N Anand Babu were speaking at an orientation workshop on the Forest Rights Act with the theme ‘New Stride in the Monitoring Mechanism of FRA Implementation’ here on Thursday. The ministers said they would conduct a review meeting after two months to know how many pending cases were cleared and to discuss the problems arising in clearing the cases. Anand Babu said the State government is determined to ensure the welfare of tribals.
He said there is a misconception that issuing pattas for forest lands to the tribals will lead to dwindling of forest cover. “It is not true as the protection of the forest comes hand in hand with forest rights as specified in the FRA,” he pointed out. Expressing his dissatisfaction over the lukewarm attitude of the forest officials in processing the applications, he said, “There is no specified last date mentioned in the FRA, hence the officials have to accept the applications whenever they are submitted and at the same time, they should be aware of the rights of tribals.” Stressing better coordination between the Forest and Tribal Welfare Departments, the minister wanted computerisation of all the details pertaining to the forest lands and applications.
He expressed his happiness over the Vana Samrakshana Samithis and the progress made in the Vanam Manam programme. Raghava Rao stressed the need for better coordination among the forest, social welfare and revenue departments. He said several applications from tribals for lands were rejected by the officials. He directed the officials to come up with a report on the reasons for the rejection and solutions to the problems in processing the applications.