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CSD seeks early disposal of FRA claims

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, May 22 :

Campaign For Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha which played a major role in the enactment of FRA and works for its effective implementation in the State, has welcomed the recent decision taken by the FRA State Level Monitoring Committee(SLMC), government of Odisha on May 8 to review and dispose around 235927 Individual Forest Rights (IFR) claims rejected and pending at different levels since 2009.

As per the FRA Status of SLMC, by the end of March 2014, 328808 IFR titles have been distributed out of the 564735 IFR claims filed at the Gram Sabha level. Out of the rest 235927 IFR claims 134919 IFR claims have been shown as rejected (74161 by GS, 59446 by SDLC and 1312 by DLC) while 28666 IFR claims (i.e 5204, 20148 and 3314) have been shown pending at the GS, SDLC and DLC level respectively.

CSD, Odisha has contended that As per FRA, 2006 the original Gram Sabha resolution duly maintained in a register should be at the Gram Sabha/FRC.

However in most of the cases SDLCs used the printed Gram Sabha Resolutions duly prescribed (as specimen copy) by SLMC in which signatures of the FRC/Gram Sabha members were taken and were sent to the SDLC. As a result most of the Gram Sabhas do not have their original/copy of the GS resolutions and details of the Individual forest rights claims filed.

Even in many Gram Sabhas, list of FRC members are not available. This serious gap has been also observed by Dr. Hrushikesh Panda during his field visit in the State. Even in the last four years, the SDLCs and DLCs have totally failed to inform on the status of the claims to the aggrieved IFR claimants and the concern Gram Sabhas and have denied them their right to file appeals despite provisions under Section 6(2) and 6(4) of the Forest Rights Act, and Section 14(1) and Section 15(1) FR Rules, 2008.

Accordingly, CSD has urged upon the SLMC to return back all the original “Gram Sabha Resolutions” along with all the IFR claims to the concerned Gram Sabhas/FRCs so that they can make necessary corrections and can resubmit them or file appeals with the SDLC and DLC level and can take advantage of decision taken to review the rejected and pending IFR claims in the state.

Reacting to  74161 IRF claims which are  being shown as rejected by the Gram Sbhas in the FRA Status Report, the CSD said, “It is not justified. We are of opinion that no IFR claim of the fellow forest land occupier has been rejected by any of the Gram Sabhas. Of course, IFR claims over non forest land would automatically rejected after field verification by FRC duly supported by SDLC with RoR.”

Thus whatever claims shown to have been rejected by the Gram Sabhas are in fact rejected by the SDLC and whole blame has been put upon the Gram Sabhas illegally.

Citing Section 12(A)(6) of FR (Amendment) Rules, 2012, CSD has claimed that “further no SDLC or DLC can reject any claim filed by the Gram Sabha, at best they can remand back the claims to the concerned Gram Sabhas for correction or additional examination.”