RAIPUR: The compiled statistics on individual and community rights allotted under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the power hub district of Korba apparently revealed the lack of effective ground-level verification exercises that allegedly culminated to augment the running total of beneficiaries in Chhattisgarh.
The sample data of Korba reflects an evident laxity on securing authentic background check for those living in and around forests, many beneficiaries who continue to remain deprived of their equitable and lawful share on FRA titles distributed.
With 42093 titles, Korba alone accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total FRA titles distributed by the state, that allotted over 4.41 lakh as individual and 43,000 community rights titles. Korba has lists of beneficiaries carrying several repeated names along with their fathers at various places.
Another observation that surprised those who are familiar with the FRA rules, was the area distributed as titles are identical in measurement -- a practice seen in various villages. It seems the beneficiaries got demarcated plotting of land rather than identifying their justifiable patta subjected to FRA guidelines.
"It’s unfortunate that Chhattisgarh has turned the FRA Act, intended to undo the historical injustice through safeguarding the rights of tribals and forest dwellers, actually ended up more as a number game. No proper field verification process undertaken by concerned authorities of forest, revenue departments and the local administration,"said Alok Shukla, convener of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (organisation fighting for forest rights of tribals)
The land allotted is inadequate than what the beneficiaries actually deserve as per their claims. It’s distressing to find identical uniform plots given as titles to many instead of the forest patta," he added..
When asked about the wide discrepancies in official data and the alleged exaggerated numbers casting a gloom over fair distribution of FRA titles, Korba collector Kiran Kaushal avoided to respond. Despite repeated messages she didn’t reply to queries sent to her.
Tribal rights activists strongly suspected of some forged practices undertaken in Korba to allegedly supplement the numbers as the list on FRA titles were given final shape without corroborating the ground reality at different areas. “The Korba statistics manifests the similar practices been followed across the Chhattisgarh state”, Shukla asserted.
The national convener of Ekta Parishad (organisation working on Gandhian principle of equity, solidarity and justice), Ramesh Sharma stated that there is no significant shift in policy on FRA implementation earlier seen under the BJP government and now by the present Congress regime.
“Even with persisting inconsistency and explicit variance visible in the compiled data to project the figures as evidence of FRA success, the proportional population of tribals in Chhattisgarh as beneficiaries still remains missing”, Sharma opined.
Around 20 lakh titles (including both individual and community rights) have so far been distributed across the country during the last 13 years.
Several tribal villagers feel aggrieved over denial of their rights as FRA beneficiaries as they claimed that the area under individual rights were much less than what their families actually possessed and deserved.