Framing the forest rights debate -Vivek Deshpande
-The Indian Express
As activists on both sides argue their case on the SC order on eviction of encroachers whose claims have been rejected under the FRA, an explanation of key issues: from dwindling forest cover to bogus claims.
On February 28, the Supreme Court put on hold its February 13 order directing states to evict tribals and other forest-dwellers whose claims over encroached forest land had been rejected under the law that recognises these rights and provides a framework for recording them.
Following protests, the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry and the Gujarat government had sought a modification of the court’s February 13 direction. These protests are ongoing — on Tuesday, large demonstrations took place across the country for demands that included promulgation of an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court’s order.
The February 13 order came on a challenge to The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 — commonly known as The Forest Rights Act (FRA) — filed by three wildlife NGOs. The court directed 17 states that had filed affidavits on claims rejected under the Act (adding up to a total of 11,91,327 claims) to ensure that in all cases “where rejection orders have been passed, eviction will be carried out on or before the next date of hearing”.
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