Delays and misconducts in Forest Rights Act in Dhamtari district, Chhattisgarh, India

The rights of Adivasis over forests are often sacrificed for the benefit of mining. But here even without mining prospects, the government and forest officials do not respect the FRA. Women in particular are denied forests rights.


Description

"The people of Junwani in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh, 140 kilometres from Raipur, launched a struggle in December 2015 to get their land back. They are fighting for their entitlements under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, or the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The legislation, enacted in December 2006, came into force on January 1, 2008.  The FRA provides for restitution of traditional forest rights to forest inhabitants across India. It grants community rights to use minor forest produce and grazing lands, and individual titles to land that Adivasis were farming as on December 13, 2005... Even as the Advasis of Dhamtari hammer on the state's doors to get the rights promised to them under the FRA, 186,000 acres of forest land in Chhattisgarh were diverted to industries between 2005-2010, according to the annual report of the mining department placed before the state legislature. Of this diverted land, 97 per cent was marked for mining." [1]. The background to the agitation is this. In the state of Chhattisgarh, indigenous peoples, Adivasi, comprise about 37% of the rural population, most of whom are directly dependent on forests for their sustenance. Other than grazing of cattle, adivasis also collect non-timber forest products for about nine-ten months in a year- mahua flower for making alcohol from January to March, tendu leaves from April to May, sal seeds in May, mushrooms in July and August, mahua leaves in August and September, and amla fruits in October. For these reason, the Scheduled tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, which is commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) enforced in 2008, provides for restoring traditional forest rights to forest inhabitants across Indian forests and tribal communities. It provides indigenous communities, through individual as well as community rights, the opportunities to claim legal ownership over the forests where they have lived on and conserved for hundreds of years. Once the rights are granted under the FRA, there is no provision for revoking it.

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Basic Data
NameDelays and misconducts in Forest Rights Act in Dhamtari district, Chhattisgarh, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceChhattisgarh
SiteDhamtari district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe conflict in Dhamtari district centers on the fact that in Chhattisgarh in general the state government has dismissed 60 per cent of individual claims by Adivasis in the past seven years – or around 512,000 such claims made under the Forest Rights Act. One main reasons is the expansion of mining rights. And contrary to the law, which stipulates 2.5 acres per adult, the Chhattisgarh government has only recognised an average of 2 acres of forestland per family [1]. This is the case also in villages of the Dhamtari district such as Junwani (although there is no pressure from mining in this case). Women have been denied all claims. The are defended by the Adivasi Samta Manch.
Project Area (in hectares)268
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population250-300 (Junwani village)
Start Date01/12/2015
Relevant government actorsScheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development Department, Chhattisgarh State Government

Chhattisgarh´s Ministry of Forests
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAdivasi Samta Manch, Vasundhara (vasundharaodisha.org), Oxfam India (https://oxfamindia.org/), Gram Mitra, KHOJ
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Women
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesNGOs such as Oxfam India, with local partners are working to provide access, control and sustainable management of natural resources to indigenous people. This is being carried out by creating awareness regarding the provisions of FRA, the steps to apply for a lease, and ensuring community forest management.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Nothing concrete has been done to answer this issue of rejection of individual claims to forest land. The judicial process is very long in India, and there are too many hierarchies to overcome before concrete results regarding the granting of forest rights can be seen.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Forest Rights Act, 2006
[click to view]

References

District wise mineral map of Chhattisgarh
[click to view]

Report of forest diversions and forest clearances given in 2015 by MoEFCC
[click to view]

Links

Original article about the conflict in Hindi
[click to view]

[1] Report about the rejection of 60 percent of individual claims under the Forest Rights Act in the last seven years.
[click to view]

Media Links

Oxfam India under their programme 'Fair Sharing of Natural Resources' is working with local organizations to reduce inequality and injustices in villages of Chhattisgarh by giving the rural people voice and means to transform power structures.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Villagers of Junwani
[click to view]

Womenfolks of Junwani village
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBrototi Roy
Last update10/01/2017
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