Despite around 68 per cent of disputed claims made under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, having being reviewed and resettled, Gujarat continues to lag behind several states, many of them battling left wing extremism, when it comes to distribution of title deeds of land deeds claimed by tribals under the Act.
Data compiled by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in a “status report on implementation of ST and other traditional forest dwellers (recognition of forest rights) Act, 2006,” shows that Gujarat has distributed land to only 38.10 per cent claimants.
Out of 190,051 claims received so far, only 72,418 title deeds have been distributed. The state government had formed a Tribal Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of CM in June 2011 to review claims that were rejected at various committee levels, helping reduce number of claims that were disposed of earlier.
According to the state tribal development department, 87,181 claims, or 68 per cent out of 1,28,000 claims have been reviewed and disposed of by the district-level committee headed by collector under and rest of the claims are under review. These are among claims that were earlier rejected.
But this has not helped the state improve disposition of claims on land made by tribal dwellers, as at least seven other states are ahead of Gujarat in disposing claims. These include Tripura (65.97%), Kerala (65.53%), Orissa (56.46%), Rajasthan (48.93%), Maharashtra (41.69%), Chhatisgarh (41.15%), and Andhra Pradesh (41.20%).
Of these states, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra are Naxal affected. Gujarat has 89.17 lakh tribal population spread across 14 districts and is not touched by the menace of Naxalism unlike many other states.
“Committees at various levels made to dispose of claims under the Act are working in tandem to ensure their fast settlement. The state government has also earmarked Rs 10 crore each in budgets in 2014 and 2015 for providing special training to tribals who have received land as per claims. We provide them scientific training in irrigation techniques, agriculture and horticulture. The basic purpose is to help them improve their livelihood through land that are given to their possession,” said secretary, tribal development, Ramesh Chandra Meena.
Data in the report reveals that while a large number of claims are cleared by the village panchayat level committees, the clearance at sub-divisional level committees drop significantly. As many as 98.15 per cent of total claims – or 186,495 out of 190,051 claims – were cleared by gram sabha committees but sub-divisional committees cleared only 39 per cent of these claims. The claims undergoes further scrutiny at district-level committees.