MoTA: Titles for 50% claims under FRA distributed; 95% titles given to individuals

In the ongoing session of Parliament, the government provides state-wise details into the number of claims settled and titles distributed till June 30, 2022

The Minister of Tribal Affairs

On December 14, 2022, during the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha Member, Elamaram Kareem [CPI(M)] raised a crucial inquiry regarding the number of potential villages/habitations, district-wise, in each State where the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA) was being implemented.

The Minister of Tribal Affairs (MOTA), Arjun Munda, responded to this question by informing the Rajya Sabha that it is the states that are responsible for implanting FRA. There was also another question put on the number of Forest Rights Committees constituted in these villages; however no data was provided by the government on this issue.

Kareem also questioned the ministry regarding the number of villages/habitations in each district that have claimed Community Forest Resource Rights under Section 3(1) (i) of FRA, and out of them how many claims have been approved by the Gram Sabha as well as the number of titles that have been issued. In response to this, the government provided the following figures:

The total number of claims that were received by the state governments, up to June 30, 2022, were 44,46,104, out of which 42,76,844 were claims of the individuals and 1,69,260 were claims for community rights.

With regard to the number of titles distributed up to June 30, 2022, the government informed that a total of 22,35,845 titles have been distributed, out of which 21,33,260 were individual titles and 1,02,585 were community titles. Additionally, the government also provided the details regarding the extent of forest land for which titles have been distributed, which came to a total 1,60,30,640.68 acres. Out of these 1,60,30,640.68 acres, the titles distributed over individual claims were for 45,48,119 acres while the community titles were for 1,14,82,521 acres; which means more than 70% of total land for which titles have been distributed, has been given to community claimants.

Chhattisgarh was the state with the highest number of claims received until June 30,2022 with 9,22,346 claims and it also topped in the number of titles distributed with 4,91,805 titles; out of these 4,46,041 titles were given to individuals. Second in line is Odisha with 6,43,375 claims and 4,60,000 titles disbursed.

On the other hand, the lowest claims were received by Himachal Pradesh, with 3,021 claims and Bihar awarded the lowest number of titles which was 121. It is pertinent to note here that data of only 22 States and UTs has been provided by the Ministry. In all India consists of 28 states and 8 union territories.

The state-wise distribution can be read here in the reply by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

Whose rights does the FRA recognise?

The FRA 2006 enables traditional forest dwelling communities to apply for claims to land and forest produce upon which they have been dependent for their livelihood for generations. The Act recognises the rights of two types of forest dwellers –Adivasi or indigenous tribal communities, many of which as included in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD). While the STs are those who consider this their ancestral and traditional habitat, and depend on forest resources for livelihood, the OTFDs are those who have primarily resided in and depended on the forest land for livelihood needs for at least three generations prior to December 13, 2005. Members of the above recognised communities have to go through an elaborate (even tedious) application process to stake claim to land and forest resources. This path-breaking law also emphasises on women’s holdings in community and individual land claims. Those sections among the Adivasis and OTFDs that are organised, file community claims rather than individual ones.

How different if the ground reality from the figures quoted by the government?

While the figures provided by the government in their reply reflect the number of claims that were accepted and titles that were distributed, the government has (deliberately?) not given any details regards the claims that were rejected, nor provided any data on the reasons for such rejections. While all the states have still not implemented the FRA, even the ones who have do not guarantee any protection of the rights of the tribal communities.

Odisha is often deemed as a high performing state when it comes to implementation of the FRA, yet when one delves into figures at the district level, enforcement appears varied and incongruent. It is the first State in the country to make a budgetary provision for implementation of the Central Act – ₹8 crore for 168 FRA cells in 2021-22. Till last year, forest rights committees were functioning in Tribal Sub Plan areas. Now, they have been extended to the entire State, reported The Hindu.

The state launched Mission 2024 for the FRA and aims to grant all kinds of forest rights including individual, community and habitat rights. As of March 2022, a total of 6,27,998 claims had been received by Gram Sabhas of which 4,52,164 claims were upheld and titles distributed. As many as 1,31,062 claims were rejected. According to the Bhubaneswar-based Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Odisha has an estimated 7.32 lakh potential claimants, which indicates that around 3 lakh eligible families are still left out, reports The Hindu.

 According to Down to Earth, a 2021 study[1] by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, which looked at the claim settlement trend in the 15 years since implementation of FRA – “The rate of recognition of forest rights from 2014 to 2021 is only 27% of all individual forest right claims received. Though, for CFR (Community Forest Rights), it is 69%.”

Stories from other states

Forest Dwellers in other states have been a part of this struggle for staking their claims over forest rights for years. Sabrang India’s sister organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) along with its partner organization All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) have been helping Adivasis file these community land claims in different states such as Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh among others.

In November 2021, forest dwelling communities belonging to the Tharu Adivasi community residing in 20 villages of the Dudhwa region of Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, filed their Objections to denial of community land claims with the district administration. These claims had been filed way back in 2013.

In August this year it was reported that, as many as 16,000 claims were rejected in just two regions of Karnataka – Sagar and Shivamogga. Out of the total 16,424 applications filed in Sagar, only 505 were approved and 4,993 were rejected, leaving 10,926 applications pending. Similarly, out of the 19,191 applications filed in Shivamogga, 11,982 were rejected and only 236 approved, leaving 6,973 pending.


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[1] 15 years of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006; Lekshmi M, Anup Kumar Samal&GeetanjoySahu; December 18, 2021




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