NEW DELHI: Aggressive economic programmes, including mining activities leading to forcible land acquisition, displacement of people without settling rights under the Forest Rights Act, and lack of political will are the major challenges that have led to weak and ineffective implementation of the FRA in Jharkhand, according to a report, Forest Rights Act Implementation in Jharkhand Promise and Performance by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, which will be published shortly in an academic journal.
The report is part of a study on the states of Maharashtra, Odisha and Jharkhand since 2017 on livelihood assessment post-FRA recognition, forest sustainability under FRA, and the benefit sharing and equity principle. The study was conducted in the districts of Godda, Dumka, Ranchi, Wesh Singhbhum, Hazaribagh, and Gumla in Jharkhand.
Forest rights titles recognised in Jharkand numbered over 25,000 in 2015 and declined to 11,298 in 2016. In 2017, there were 1,758 titles, and 3,962 in 2018, according to an analysis of trends in the implementation of FRA in the state in the TISS report.
Political interest in FRA implementation in Jharkhand is slack, the report says. The monthly progress report on FRA database under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs reveals that from January to July 2017 and from May to October 2018, not one forest rights title was distributed in Jharkhand, according to the TISS report. Between August 2017 and April 2018, 3,962 titles were distributed, of which only 367 titles were on community forest rights, it added.
“There is an absence of a dedicated tribal development department in the state and the department of welfare is authorised to look after the FRA. There is also a misunderstanding of the interpretation of the forest rights of the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers as beneficiaries at the ground level,” said Geetanjoy Sahu, assistant professor at TISS.