With many forest rights claim (FRC) cases still pending with the Himachal Pradesh government, Congress on Thursday cornered the government for not settling cases under Forest Rights Act that are awaiting nod since 2016.
Raising the issue during Question Hour on the second day of the ongoing budget session, Congress member Ashish Butail said a total of 164 cases had been settled till date out of which 140 cases were settled during previous Congress regime. Only 24 cases had been settled by the state government under Section 3(1) of Forest Rights Act by the present government in its four years rule.
In winter session of state assembly, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had assured to settle FRC cases on priority but no concrete action had been taken in this regard, he added.
State Tribal Development minister Ram Lal Markanda said the process was halted due to panchayat elections in the state but now committees had been formed till village level to resolve these cases on priority.
“There were many discrepancies in documents filed for FRC cases which had been sent back. We have given trainings till panchayat level as to how to file claims for settlement of forest rights.
Many times, it has also been seen that quorum during meetings is not complete which also causes delay in settling the claims,” he added.
CPM member Rakesh Singha also criticized the state government for delay in settling claims of forest rights and said many claims were pending at initial stages.
Congress member Jagat Singh Negi accused the state government of lying on the floor of the house and said the minister had submitted half-baked and incorrect reply on the issue during winter session of state assembly.
The state government in a reply to query on the issue had submitted wrong information during winter session as the number of FRC cases was much less in Kinnaur district. But now the number had increased.
Negi stated that the state government should conduct trainings on FRA in tribal areas while the government is conducting these Mandi district.
Responding to the opposition members queries, Markanda stated the main reason for delay in settling FRCs was incomplete or wrong information filed by the claimants. The FRCs are submitted to Deputy Commissioners by panchayat level officials.
The state government had directed the concerned officials to not to reject any FRC cases as these can’t be processed again if once these are declined, he added.