Agriculture minister Ramlal Markanda on Friday said the government would implement the provisions of Forest Rights Act (FRA) in mission mode and is planning to settle claims soon.

Replying to a motion brought by Palampur MLA Ashish Butail and Theog MLA Rakesh Singha under Rule 62, he said the government had implemented FRA for Schedule Tribe (ST) areas in July 2008.

And it was implemented in non-ST areas in 2012, he added.

After coming into power, the government has issued directions to all Deputy Commissioners to implement the provisions of the Act.

For the purpose, three committees have been constituted at state, district and village level for settling the claims of forest dwellers and other local communities, he added.

Markanda said the government had so far received 2319 claims for settlement from Chamba, Kangra, Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti districts and 136 claims (129 individual and 7 community claims) have been awarded till 30 September 2018.

The claims were received under Schedule Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) till Sep 30 in the state.

For effective implementation of the Act, awareness campaigns were held and Rs 42.21 lakh were released to all the deputy commissioners to identify forest rights in their respective districts, he added.

Earlier, Rakesh Singha alleged administrative officials were dominating the legislature in Himachal and creating hurdle in the implementing of FCA.

He said FCA was enacted in 2006 and came into force in 2008.

Singha said Himachal has worst record in implementing FCA in all states across the country and it seems that the bureaucracy doesn’t want to implement the law.

As an excuse, the officials usually cites High Court order for not implementing the provisions of the Act.

While developmental rights have been implemented, individual and community rights are not being implemented which is resulting in people being evicted from the land on which they have rights.

Besides, people were recently evicted from land allocated for Central University campus in Dharamshala and these people were allocated land by state before 1980.

But as demarcation wasn’t conducted due to implementation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, he added.

He called for implementation of the Act in letter and spirit.

Ashish Burai questioned why FCA was not being implemented and urged the Agriculture minister to settle all claims in time bound manner.