States reject 1.75 million FRA claims till March

At a review meeting of Tribal Affairs Ministry, states submitted these statistics of claims accepted and rejected in past 1 year


At a Review meeting held by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) on September 2, the data submitted by states revealed that about 1.7 million land rights claims have been rejected. These claims have been filed by forest dwellers under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, or the Forest Rights Act.

Economic Times reported that the data suggests that about 1.9 million claims were accepted and forest dwellers granted land title under the Forest Rights Act. This exercise gained momentum, after the Supreme order in February 2019 putting a stay on the evictions of tribals whose claims were rejected and directing states to verify if claims were rejected earlier by following due process of law. This order came in a PIL filed by Wildlife First that challenges the validity of the Forest Rights Act.

The data suggests that the highest number of claims rejections come from tribal-dominated Scheduled V area states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. While Chhattisgarh rejected 4,61,590 claims, it has also awarded the highest number of titles at 4,23,218. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh rejected 3,58,767 claims and granted 2,57,864 titles. ET reported that other states with high rejections and low awarding of titles include Karnataka with 1,80,956 rejections and 16,073 titles awarded, West Bengal with 96,587 rejections and 45,130 titles awarded, and Bihar with 4,215 rejections and 121 titles awarded.

This is an on-going process as tribals keep filing their claims and state governments are in the process of vetting them and this data is until March 2020. A ministry official said, “The state governments have been providing cumulative data on rejected claims. They are in different stages of review. The final tally of tribals that could face eviction would be known soon. In the recent review, the states pointed out that this exercise has taken a backseat due to the pandemic outbreak.”

The process of considering claims at the sub-district and district levels has slowed down due to the pandemic and at the same time the atrocities by the forest department against the tribals exacerbated. Several instances of forced evictions, arrests on false cases, assault, harassment and obstructing livelihood activities came to light in the past few months in states of UttarakhandBiharMadhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.


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