Progressing J&K: Extension of FRA-2006 strengthens grassroot democracy

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SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 11: The implementation of Forest Rights Act is strengthening the democracy at grassroots level besides correcting the wrongs done in past by replicating the true spirit of the Act across Jammu and Kashmir

In September 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir government scripted a historic chapter when Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, handed over individual and community rights certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar, Bakarwal and Gaddi Sippi communities under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 at a momentous event in Srinagar.

The event was hailed as a significant step with a potential to transform the lives of members of tribal communities in the UT as the rights of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers were recognized albeit a long delay.

An 80- year old, Wali Muhammad of Kotrang Rajouri reveals how he was facilitated by the administration in providing FRC at the hands of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha which he had desired for all life so that he can also have rights so some forest land and its produce.

After a long struggle and efforts for more than 14 years due rights have been conferred upon the tribal community through implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, keeping in mind the basic spirit of social equality and harmony as guided by the constitution of our country and the Parliament.

Under the guidance of Prime Minister, forest rights were conferred to tribal community. J&K administration had been vigorously pursuing the ideals of establishing an equitable and just social order in the UT.

The UT government had been working sincerely to empower the tribal community which remained neglected and discriminated against for decades together.

Conferring rights over the forest land for these forest dwellers is poised to elevate the socio-economic status of a sizeable section of 14 lakh population of tribals and nomadic communities including Gujjar, Bakarwals and Gaddi Sippis in the Union Territory.

Nasir Hussain, Sarpanch of Mandi Poonch is grateful of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha for giving them rights on the forest land which was their long pending demand.

Similarly, Sarpanch of Upper Pachwal Rajouri expresses gratitude to Government of India for providing livelihood to the ST community under Forest Rights Act which was pending from last 70 years.

These people have been living in the forests since centuries without any right over the forest land but implementation of FRA proved to be of great help for these forest dwellers. The Act was a step towards redressing prejudice and empowering communities to participate in the management of forest and wildlife protection. The preamble to the Act itself notes that it recognizes the historical injustice to tribals and others who have been traditionally living in forest areas.

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