The Supreme Court’s recent interim order on the eviction of tribal families and other adivasis living on forest land will affect millions of households. Under the Forest Rights Act, 11.8 lakh claims have been rejected by the apex court.
What is the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and when did it come in to effect?
The Forest Rights Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws, according to the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national platform of tribal and forest dwellers’ organisations. It gives communities and the public a voice in forest conservation.
What is the process followed to verify claims of forest dwellers?
There is a three-step verification process and 13 different kinds of evidence. There is a number of things that can be produced by the tribals living in forests to prove that they were living there, says Saurav Upadhyay, an environmental lawyer.
How do researchers and lawyers see the order?
“The problem with the judgement is how it has disregarded the grassroots reality of implementation. What we have identified, in parts of Gujarat, that people had claims to forest land rejected because they were government employees or where there is inordinate delay and pendency in claims. The order assumes that the legal procedure is operating perfectly,” Tanay Gupta, a research associate with the Centre for Social Justice.
What is the extent of the problem?
It is not only the eviction of people from the 17 states which have submitted the rejected claims but of the entire country which will lead to a huge number of people being at the receiving end of it. “This establishes the foundation for doing away with Forest Rights Act ,” says Tanay Gupta.