Finally, Himachal begins to recognize Forest Rights following campaigns and protests
Shimla: A considerable number of people in various districts of Himachal Pradesh have begun to find relief as the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 has picked up some momentum during last few months.
Activists and organizations had been demanding the implementation of FRA for several years now. The government was supposed to implement them long before, but it did not. Now, after a long struggle, the campaigns and protests are yielding results.
During the last couple of months, the government has granted recognition and titles in several claims made from various districts.
Chamba and Lahaul-Spiti are two leading districts in receiving these titles under the act. These titles imply that the individual and community user rights over land under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department are now legally recognized.
Last month, on the 70th Independence Day the Health & Family Welfare Minister Kaul Singh Thakur distributed land titles to16 individuals under the FRA, 2006 in Lahaul and Spiti district.
After Chamba, where seven community titles over 1890 hectare and 53 individual titles have been recognized and vested, Lahaul-Spiti has become the second district where people have granted titles under FRA 2006.
During last month, eight titles were given in Stingri village, seven in Shooling village, and one in Gondhala village. These titles were given to the families which had their houses constructed on forest land before December 13, 2005.
Earlier in the year, the administration cut the electricity connections here on the basis of the State High Court order on illegal encroachments on the forest land.
Kangra district reported the highest number of filed claims under individual and community rights at 81 and 43 respectively. However, these claims from Baijnath, Palampur and Dharamshala Tehsils, are yet to be recognised.
Despite the fact that some of these claims were filed as long back as 2014, the administration has taken no decision on them.
It was made possible with the combined effort of the district administration, Himachal Van Adhikar Manch a state level alliance of organizations working on the implementation of FRA 2006 in Himachal and with active support from Ravi Thakur, MLA from Lahaul and Spiti district,
said Rigzin Hyreppa from “Save Lahaul and Spiti”. He is coordinating the process of implementation of FRA 2006 in the district.
This is an encouraging step and it will help in furthering the spread of FRA 2006 not only in Lahaul and Spiti but in other parts of Himachal too. We look forward to the recognition of claims in Kangra District now, where we have put in a great deal of work in facilitating the process of claim filing,
said Prakash Bhandari from HVAM.
The decision taken by the State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC) held on July 25, 2017, has given a lot of hope. It clearly instructs all the DCs to make all the efforts to finalize community rights, as the rights of communities are well recorded so it will not be difficult for them to be recognized under FRA 2006,
said the convenor of HVAM Akshay Jasrotia.
To obtain the recognition of rights, the SLMC has formulated provisions for the training of the line department staff involved in the implementation of FRA 2006.