The Odisha Government has decided to address the historical injustice and critical issues pertaining to the forest rights of the forest dwellers in a campaign mode by constituting forest rights cells at the district level.
Despite the lofty objective of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act), 2006, and its implementation since the last fifteen years, it is noted that saturation of rights recognition process is yet to be achieved.
“In our State, progress is limited to Individual Forest Rights (IFR) whereas the recognition of Community Rights (CR) and Community Forest Resources (CFR) rights is lagging,” said a senior official of the Government on Tuesday.
Odisha is home to 62 types of tribes, 13 of which are categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). As per the 2011 census, the State is ranked third in terms of Scheduled Tribe population nationally.
The tribal population of the State stands at 95,90,756 which constitutes 22.85 per cent of the State’s total population. Out of nearly 53,845 villages in the State, there are about 32,562 Forest Rights Act potential villages. The estimated potential forest area over which forest rights can be recognized in Odisha is approximately 35,739 Sq. kilometers
Besides, the post-recognition issues such as providing livelihood support through convergence of the schemes/programmes of the Govt., creation of Records of Rights (RoRs) of the forest land vested with the eligible claimants, conversion of un-surveyed/forest villages into revenue villages, etc., requires more systematic interventions.
“Keeping those issues in view, Government of Odisha has decided to launch a State Sector Scheme titled “Mo Jungle Jami Yojana” to saturate the rights recognition process and speed-up the post-rights recognition activities within a prescribed timeframe,” said Satyabrata Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department.
Under the Scheme, Forest Rights Cells will be constituted at the Tehsil and District level with professional human resources to ensure & assist in the effective implementation of FRA, 2006 in the district level.
The Government has prioritized the effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act in a saturation mode. Odisha is one of the leading States in implementation of FRA with distribution of 4.56 lakhs of individual forest right (IFR) titles in the country as of now. However, there still exists a gap between the potential and actual achievement in the rights recognition and the linked development processes.
The Collectors have been asked to look into the matter and initiate action for its effective implementation, so that the provisions of FRA, 2006 are translated into practices for the larger benefit of the forest dependent communities, Additional Secretary Sahu concluded.