Ministry stresses on time-bound implementation of Forest Rights Ac

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (UNI) The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has stressed the need for implementation of the Forest Rights Act in a time-bound manner and urged the States to complete the preliminary work for identification of beneficiaries by mid March.

This issue came up during the two-day meeting of the State Secretaries of Tribal Development, which concluded here today.

Speaking at the meet, Secretary of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs G B Mukherji said that the Centre should give priority to the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The States should draw an action plan and set up an effective monitoring mechanism at various levels for a continuous review of implementation of the Act, he added.

The meeting was also addressed by Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Sushma Singh and senior officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

In the preparatory actions already taken towards the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, most of the States assured that the exercise of convening Gram Sabha meetings would be initiated from February 28, 2008, and would be completed by the middle of next month.

The actionable points for the States and the role of the Ministries of Environment and Forests and Panchayati Raj, as envisaged in the Act, were also explained in the meeting.

The Forest Rights Act was also recently discussed in a meeting of the State Forest Secretaries/PCCFs/CWLWs organised by that Ministry last week.

The Secretary (Panchayati Raj) stated that the provisions of the Forest Rights Act and the rules framed thereunder were in complete harmony with the PESA Act and the Act needed to be implemented in letter and spirit.

The meeting also reviewed the performance of the States in the implementation of the Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Plan and the Utilisation of Grants for Various Tribal Welfare Schemes.

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