NEW DELHI: After the Supreme Court stayed its order on eviction of tribals whose claims under the Forest Rights Act have been stayed, activists say there is fear among traditional forest dwellers who have been excluded from the rights recognition process.
Traditional forest dwellers have been systematically excluded due to their inability to produce documentary evidence dating back to 1930, said a joint statement released by the Community Forest Rights-Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA), Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch (MAKAAM) and All India Forum for Forest Movements (AIFFM).
Those traditionally left out include pastoral communities from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand (Van Gujjars) and other states; and Dalits communities including religious minorities, pointed out the activists.
Even though the FRA recognises women as equal right-holders, they also continue to be disproportionately impacted by the eviction order because they have been historically excluded from ownership of land and resources and as decision makers, observed the organisations.
As women continue to be vulnerable to harassment and imprisonment under forest offence cases, the situation is likely to worsen if evictions are carried out, said the organisations.
Activists demanded that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the state governments ensure the effective implementation of FRA.
The Centre is holding a meeting with the state governments on March 6 to deliberate on the apex court’s direction that the state governments should file detailed affidavits by July 10 giving information on the constitution of office review committees, details regarding the procedure having been followed on the claim applications under the Act as well as the appeals filed against the rejection cases.