ROURKELA: Tribals are up in arms against the district administration for rejection of claims of ownership of forest land and sloppy implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006 in Sundargarh district.
Following the Supreme Court order on eviction of ‘illegal forest dwellers’ on February 13 and subsequent stay on the order on February 28, the district administration has been holding hearings in all 17 blocks for verifications of claims from June. With many individual forest rights (IFR) claims getting rejected, resentment is brewing among tribals.
Sub-Collectors of Panposh, Sundargarh and Bonai sub-divisions as chairmen of sub-division level committees (SDLCs) on FRA have been conducting hearings on four points. Claims are being rejected for reasons like IFR claimants applying for non-forest land, not in occupation of forest land, inadequate proof and others (not specified).
Panposh Sub-Collector Biswajit Mohapatra said the hearing process is underway but in many cases, the claimants were found to have applied for revenue land. He said total rejection of claims would be known after completion of the verification process and accordingly appropriate recommendation would be made to District Level Committee (DLC) on FRA headed by the District Collector.
Till March 31, 2019, the DLC on FRA approved IFR claims of 21,406 tribal forest dwellers and 555 IFR claims of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs). Of this, titles were distributed to as many as 19,367 individual tribal forest dwellers over 1,343 hectares and claims of 16,864 OTFDs were rejected.
Social activist Siprian Xaxa claimed that against mandatory 60 days notice period, hearings were done in a short span of two days of serving notices and irked over it affected person in Balishankara and Hemgir blocks stopped the process.
Sundargarh Collector Nikhil Pavan Kalyan was not available for comment.