Home MISCELLANY ENVIRONMENT Community rights under FRA improving livelihoods of Odisha tribal people

Community rights under FRA improving livelihoods of Odisha tribal people

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Bhubaneswar: Tribal people in the State are able to make their lives better for the Community rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) by managing forest resources sustainably.

This was stated during a one-day workshop on Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 and recogniton of community forest rights here. The workshop was jointly organised by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, and Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Bhubaneswar.

The workshop saw the release of the research report on forest rights recognition and community based governance of forests in Jamguda village of Barabandha gram panchayat of Kalahandi district. It may be mentioned here that Jamguda is the first village in Odisha to get the right to issue transit permit for harvested bamboos under forest rights law in March 2013.

The workshop was inaugurated by A B Ota, Special Secretary and Director, SC and ST Research and Training Institute of Government of Odisha.

In his address, Ota highlighted Odisha’s pioneering performance in recognition of individual forest rights and stresed the need to work more on community forest rights recognition process. He also thanked TISS and FES for quality research on FRA implementation process and bringing out the pulse of the villages. Many of the participants highlighted the need for pro active action by the state government to effectvely implement the community forest rights provisions to benefit tribals and other traditional forest dwellers who constitute 40% of the state’s population

The village community of Jamguda has not only been conserving forests but also taken steps to improve the livelihods of tribal people in the past five years. The village has become the role model for others in the state to exercise forest rights and manage forest resources sustainably.

The report prepared by TISS also highlighted the policy initiatives in Odisha and Maharashtra on effective implementation of forest rights law. Maharashtra seems to be way ahead in empowering the gram sabhas in managing community foest resources. Maharashtra has devolved funds from Tribal Sub Plan and Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) directly to the gram sabha for conserving and managing forests thereby benefitting the tribal people in a big way. Various other circulars of the Maharashtra government helped the tribals in exercising rights over Kendu Leaves and bamboos.

The study report was deliberated in the workshop where people from NGOs, academic institutions, panchayati raj institutions were present.

The participants also narrated the bureaucratic hurdles especially from local forest department officials in effective implementation of the law and exercise of rights envisaged under the said law.

The workshop recommended a mission mode approach to community forest rights recognition process in Odisha and coordination among officials of tribal, forest and revenue departments at district and sub divisional levels apart from roping in NGOs in community mobilisation and training.