State Ministers' meet to review implementation of Forest Rights Act

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New Delhi, Jun 25 (UNI) The Centre has convened a meeting of Ministers in charge of Tribal Affairs in the states to review the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has stressed the need to expedite the preliminary work for inviting claims for the rights, identify beneficiaries and initiate conferring rights.

A core group, consisting of senior officials of Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Law and Justice and Environment and Forests, has been formed under the chairmanship of Secretary (Tribal Affairs) for taking a view on queries and references from state governments to ensure speedy implementation of the Act.

The states have also been urged to constitute monitoring committees for time bound action at various levels towards the implementation of the Act.

They have been advised to run awareness campaigns in tribal pockets in regional languages and local dialects about the objectives of the Act and procedure for submitting claims with the Forest Rights Committees.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has been entrusted with the job to prepare a comprehensive web-based information system for monitoring the implementation of the Act at various levels.

State wise information data such as status of formation of various committees prescribed in the Act, publication of related information in regional languages, number of claims received and their status would be displayed on the NIC website on a day to day basis.

The meeting would be chaired by Tribal Affairs Minister P R Kyndiah. Besides Ministers in charge of Tribal Affairs from the states, the meeting would be attended by the Ministers and senior officials of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Environment and Forest, the Ministry of Law and Justice and members of the Planning Commission.

The Act recognises and vests forest rights and occupation in forest land in forest-dwelling STs and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. This would undo the historical injustice done to the forest-dwelling STs.

The Act provides for recognition of forest rights of other traditional forest dwellers, ''provided they have for at least three generations prior to December 13, 2005, primarily resided in and have depended on the forest or forest land for bonafide livelihood needs.'' UNI BKS SKB AS1644

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