NEW DELHI: Despite the Forest Rights Act being passed more than a decade ago, awareness of the provisions of the Act among forest officials remains dissatisfactory, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has told the states. This comes ahead of the Supreme Court hearing in the Forest Rights Act case on November 26.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has written to a number of states to conduct training programmes for government officials and functionaries at various levels, including at the district and sub-district levels for an enhanced understanding of how the Act.
Recognition of forest rights titles empowers scheduled tribe people and other forest dwellers.
The letter is being written in a phased manner to states and UTs. Jharkhand, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, are among states which are yet to receive the letter.
“It is generally felt that the awareness among the implementing officials regarding the various provisions of the Act and Rules thereunder is still less than satisfactory although so many years have elapsed. The state-tribal development/welfare departments are duty-bound to take steps towards capacity building and training of the functionaries responsible for implementing the Act at various levels in the state and districts,” the letter from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs said.
There is a need for better understanding among state government officials and local functionaries on community forest rights and community forest resource rights, their recognition process, management and related issues, it said.
“There is need to focus on this area of community/ community forest resource rights claim recognition process which is lagging behind the individual claims process. There is also a need for more capacity building activity in this area,” it added.
Odisha-based activist Y Giri Rao said the ministry should ask states to respond in a time-bound manner on how far they have achieved capacity building among officials as implementation of the FRA continues to be poor.
“There would be state-wise one-day workshop where there will be officers from the forest department, tribal welfare department and participants as public representatives to discuss how to go about pattas which have not been given so far. We started writing the letter with Odisha. Few letters are now in the pipeline,” said Deepak Khandekar, secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.