The Krishnanagar District Collector issued title deeds to 158 people from Geratti in Natrampalayam panchayat and Kodakarai village in Doddamanju panchayat in Anchetti taluk in April. In addition to that, as reported by the New Indian Express, five community rights were also provided to Kodakarai villages.
The Hosur sub-collector was quoted by TNIE as saying, “In 2018- 2019, title deeds under FRA were given to 71 people in Shoolagiri and Denkanikottai taluks. This was due to the over five months efforts of revenue staff like village administrative officers, and former and incumbent tahsildars of Anchetti taluk. This process will be further extended across the district. Many people in Kodakarai don’t have community certificates and other documents to claim FRA. Therefore, community certificates were distributed for about 150 people in Kodakarai village and an Aadhaar card has also been arranged for about 50 people.”
Many people in Kodakarai do not have community certificates and other documents or Adhaar cards. As such community certificates were issued to 150 people and 50 people were issued Aadhar cards.
Changes were also to be made in the revenue records after providing the title deeds to these tribals. As a next step, the 114 people residing in Kodakarai will also get “patta” which will ensure their forest rights.
CR Bijoy, an independent researcher, told Scroll, “FRA titles are enough to avail all facilities otherwise available to landowners.” He further added, “Tribals have the least carbon footprint in the world and yet it will be them digging a borewell which the forest department resists vehemently, rather than the diversion of large swathes of forest land or the department itself foolishly and catastrophically converting grasslands into grandis plantations.”
However, Tushar Dash, an independent researcher on forest rights governance, told Scroll, “no uniform understanding or guidelines on how these convergence activities are supposed to be taken”. The forest officials too, sometimes misinterpret the provisions of the Act and say that the title only confers some rights and not ownership of the land.
Under Section 13(1)(a) of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 pattas, reports of committees and commissions are required as evidence for determination of forest rights. Thus, this development is in the right direction for the recognition of their rights.
In February 2008, Madras High Court had issued an order to the state to not issue any pattas under the said law. As reported in the Scroll, in April 2008, it allowed the implementation of the Act but directed, “before the certificate of title is actually issued, orders shall be obtained from this Court”. In 2016, the Supreme Court reversed the April 2008 state order and allowed the implementation of the Act. Yet, it remained poor and a 2017 assessment showed that Tamil Nadu was the worst performing state when it came to the application of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
As of October 31, 2022 Tamil Nadu has received a total 34,837 claims (community and individual) but it has distributed only 8,594 titles. The state has 7.95 lakh tribal population.