Jammu : Divisional Commissioner, Dr Raghav Langer Saturday chaired a meeting of Deputy Commissioners and officers of Forest, Rural Development and Tribal Affairs to review the implementation of “The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act 2006)” and status of settlement of claims received in the districts.
The meeting was attended by Chief Conservator of Forest, Chief Wildlife Warden, Director Rural Development Jammu, DFO Jammu, besides senior officers of Social Welfare, Tribal Affairs and other concerned while Deputy Commissioners of Jammu division alongwith DFOs and other concerned officers participated in the meeting through video conferencing.
Pertinently, the Forest Rights Act of 2006 provides rights to forest dwellers. The Act was earlier not applicable or implemented in Jammu and Kashmir it became applicable to J&K only after 31st October, 2019, hence, recognizing the rights of forest dwelling communities for the first time in this part of India. Under the Act, members of the Scheduled Tribes dwelling in the forests along with other traditional residents will have the right over forest land for habitation or self-cultivation or livelihood.
It was informed that under the Act the Gram Sabha will submit decisions on all the claims in the form of resolution to Sub Division Level Committee and after their statutory duties will be forwarded to District Level Committee headed by Deputy Commissioners for final approval.
During the meeting, it was informed that the Gram Panchayat Level Forest Rights Committee(s) (FRC) have been constituted in all the districts of the division and the survey of claimants by the forest rights panels for assessing the nature and extent of rights claimed at the village-level was in progress.
During the meeting threadbare deliberations were held on different aspects/ provisions of the Act wherein the concerned officers of Forest, Revenue and Rural Development Department briefed the Div Com about the current status and other related necessities with regard to its implementation on the ground level.
Key issues were discussed in detail like receiving of claims, consolidation by Forest Rights Committee, verification process to be carried out with Forest and Revenue officials, preparation of verification report, resolution by Gram Sabha and submission of processed claims to Sub Divisional Level Committee.
The Deputy Commissioners also apprised the Div Com about the number of claims (individual/ community) received by the Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) at Gram Sabha, Block and district Level and status on verification by the Forest Rights Committee.
The Div Com asked the DFOs to coordinate with Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional level Committees for verification by the Forest Rights Committees, so that verification is carried out and Gram Sabha considers the same for its decisions.
The Div Com directed the DFOs to take initiative to reach out to Deputy Commissioners and officials of Revenue Department for expediting the process and ensure that claims are processed and disposed of immediately.
After taking a thorough review, the Div Com stressed on adopting a coordinated approach for its effective implementation. He underlined the need for disseminating awareness at grassroots level to provide necessary awareness at Panchayat level more especially in remote and inaccessible areas.
Dr Langer emphasized upon the concerned departments to work with added zeal for getting the desired results within the fixed time frame. He also exhorted to work in close coordination with Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) that have been constituted for the purpose.
The Div Com also stressed on the development aspect and directed the DCs to focus on the development process/activities to ensure the genuine needs and requirements like pathways, water and power are available to forest dwellers.
The Div Com also issued directions to the concerned officers for expediting the process of claim settlement for timely completion.