Joint Communication signed to secure rights of forest dwellers

Source: Indian Express

 What is the News?

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has signed a Joint Communication to secure the rights of traditional forest dwellers and to ensure proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act,2006.

Why was this Joint Communication signed?

  • The Government of India had enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act,2006 commonly known as the Forest Rights Act(FRA).
  • The Act recognizes the forest rights in Forest land for Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes(FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
  • There are 13 types of rights that have been given in the Act. Despite this, only one of these rights — distribution of pattas to forest dwellers — has actually been implemented.
  • Hence, the joint communication is being signed to effectively implement the Forest Rights Act,2006, and also protect the interests of both forest and its dwellers.

What does the Joint Communication contain? The Joint Communication has issued several directions which include:

  • Firstly, State forest departments will carry out verification of claims for forest rights, mapping of forest lands involved, authentication of records, joint field inspections among others.
  • Secondly, State forest departments will undertake projects for value chain addition including capacity building of primary collectors, new harvesting methods, storage, processing, and marketing of Non​-Timber Forest Products(NTFP).
  • Thirdly, a nodal agency to be designated for specific non-timber forest products as supply chain platforms in collaboration with TRIFED, Ministry of Ayush, Van Dhan Kendras among others.
  • Lastly, State tribal welfare departments along with forest departments will work out strategies to extend MGNREGA and NRLM to forest dwellers as well as initiate skill development programs and give impetus to agro-forestry and horticulture projects.
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