After its ambitious water supply project got stuck, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), on the directions of the state forest department, has decided to set up a Forest Rights Committee (FRC) in order to get the necessary approval for civic projects in reserve forests within its limits. The FRC will tell the PMC whether the development work will hamper rights of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers.
In a proposal tabled in the General Body meeting, Municipal Commissioner Saurabh Rao requested the House of 164 members to nominate three members for the FRC.
The need for FRC came up after the PMC sought the forest department’s nod for construction of three overhead water tanks in land survey number 262 on Hanuman Tekdi behind Fergusson College in Shivajinagar, which comes under forest land.
It is necessary to take a no objection certificate (NoC) from the district collectorate under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, to implement any infrastructure project on forest land. The NoC can be issued only after the FRC passes a resolution that the construction of water tanks will not hamper the rights of ST and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers. “It is necessary to constitute the FRC to get the permission for various civic projects, including water tanks, on forest reserve land,” Rao said.
As per the Forest Rights Act, there is need to constitute FRC for Pune city and three members have to be recommended by the PMC. It should have at least two members from the ST community and in case the civic body doesn’t have the required representation from the community, members from other communities living in the forest can be selected. Of the three, one member should be a woman.
The state forest department, last month, had asked the PMC to constitute the FRC, Rao said, adding that the move would enable the civic body to get necessary government permissions to use the forest land for construction of roads, water projects and sewage treatment projects.
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was enacted in December 2006. The Act recognises the historical injustice that Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) have been subjected to and seeks to secure their rights over the traditionally accessed and managed forest land and community forest resources.