NEW DELHI: After the states missed the 15-day deadline to submit data on the rejection of forest rights claims in March, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has decided to collect phase-wise data, depending on when the Lok Sabha polls conclude in the states.
In an interim order on February 13, the Supreme Court had directed 21 states to evict 11.8 lakh illegal forest dwellers whose forest rights claims were rejected by state authorities. Later, the apex court stayed the order.
The Centre had later held a meeting with the states and asked them to carry out an accurate assessment of the rejected cases at their district-level committees, taking into account the possibility of duplicate applications requiring de-duplication.
“It would have been unrealistic to ask the states to collect such data during polls. With the collection of data to be carried out at district level, states are taking time to conclude the exercise”, said a senior official in the ministry.
“Now, we have decided to give each state a window of 15 days to submit the data from the time the polling process is over there. In the first lot, we are expecting data from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where polls will be concluded sooner. By the end of May, we expect to consolidate the complete data put forward by the states,” said the official.
It would also be important to address the larger issue of livelihood of tribals, said the official. “There are likely to be cases wherein a tribal family may have the deed papers but may not have the right to cultivate. The larger question that arises before the government then is what happens to the livelihood of the community,” said the official.