Centre convenes meeting to implement Forest Rights Act

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Agartala, Jun 26 (UNI) The Centre has convened a meeting of the ministers-in-charge of Tribal Affairs of the Northeastern states to review the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act next week in Delhi.

Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma said here today that the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had stressed the need to expedite the preliminary work for inviting claims for the rights, identify beneficiaries and to initiate conferring rights and a core group consisting of senior officials of Ministries of Panchayati Raj, Law an Justice and Environment and Forests was formed under the chairmanship of Secretary (Tribal Affairs) for taking up queries and references from State Governments to ensure speedy implementation of the Act.

He said the states had also been urged to constitute monitoring committees for time bound action at various levels towards the implementation of the Act and they were advised to run awareness campaigns in tribal pockets in regional languages and local dialects about objectives of the Act and procedure for submitting claims with the Forest Rights Committees.

The National Information Center (NIC) was entrusted the job to prepare a comprehensive web-based information system for monitoring implementation of the Act at various levels, Mr Debbarma said.

He said the statewise information data, including 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 website on day to day basis.

Union Tribal Affairs Minister P R Kyndiah would chair the proposed meeting while Ministers in charge of Tribal Affairs from the states as well as senior officials of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Law and Justice and Planning Commission would participate.

He underlined that the Act recognised and vested the forest rights and occupation of forest land to the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who had been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.

The Act provides for recognition of forest rights of other traditional forest dwellers provided they had been living there for at least three generations prior to December 13, 2005, primarily residing in and depending on the forests or forest land for bonafide livelihood needs.

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