Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram for modification of the eligibility criteria of traditional forest dwellers for availing benefits under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
In a letter to Oram, Patnaik said that during the course of implementation of the Forest Rights Act, it is observed that the benefits have largely been extended to the Scheduled Tribes and not to the other forest dwelling communities including Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes.
As per the existing provisions under the act, while the Scheduled Tribes are eligible for availing the rights if they have resided in the forests prior to December 13, 2005, the other traditional forest dwellers should have inhabited the forests for over three generations or 75 years, Patnaik mentioned in the letter.
“Even though in Odisha, around 30,000 claims have been filed by the other traditional forest dwellers, so far only 73 titles have been distributed. The reason for such abysmally low number of titles being issued to other traditional forest dwellers is primarily on account of the heavy burden of proof cast upon the claimants to provide evidence of their occupation in the forest lands from the year 1930,” the CM wrote.