Centre asks NE states to mobilise communities for forests

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Agartala, Feb 10 (UNI) The Centre has asked the Northeastern states to mobilise forest dwellers and tribal communities to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage community forest resources.

Official sources said here today that according to the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, which came into effect on January 31, 2007, the Union Forests and Environment Ministry issued directives to the concerned states.

Since the forest dwelling community had been traditionally protecting and conserving forest resources for sustainable use, the Act recognised state laws of Autonomous District Council or Autonomous Regional Council and the rights of tribals under any traditional or customary law.

Shankar Gopalakrishnan, one of the leaders of the 'Campaign for Survival and Dignity', a federation of tribal and forest dwellers' organisations of 11 states, told UNI that besides the NE states, the Centre had issued the similar order for other tribal-dominated states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

The Act was legislated for ensuring the right of access to biodiversity and community rights to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity, he added.

In order to provide the land and forest rights to tribal and other forest dwellers, the Centre had enacted the law to undo the historical injustice done to tribal and forest dwellers living in forestland for last three generations, before December 13, 2005, he stated.

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