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Smiles return to tribals as J&K govt constitutes three committees to implement Forest Rights Act

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Srinagar:  Jammu and Kashmir government has constituted three committees to implement the Forest Rights Act in the union territory.

The administration on Tuesday constituted a UT level committee, District level committee, and Sub-district level committee to oversee implementation and compliance of the act.

 

Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir administration announced that the Forest Rights Act of 2006 will be implemented in the UT.

Forest Rights Act of 2006 grants rights to forest dwellers across the country. This Central Act was, however, not applicable or implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 14 years. It became applicable to J&K only after October 31, 2019, hence, recognizing the rights of forest-dwelling communities for the first time in the Union Territory.

An official document assessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed that the eight-member UT level committee will be headed by the Chief Secretary. It shall primarily devise criteria and indicators for monitoring the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights.

“(It shall) monitor the process of recognition, verification and vesting of forest rights in the UT,” the document said.

The committee as per the document shall meet after every three months to check the progress on implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

“Addressing the field level problems and furnish a quarterly report to the central government on the assessment regarding the status of claims, the compliance with the steps required under the Act, details of the claims approved, reasons for rejection if any and the status of pending claims,” it said.

Similarly, a four-member District level committee headed by the deputy commissioner has been constituted to ensure the implementation of the act at the district level.

The committee as per the document has been assigned the job of addressing the claims of pastorals, approval of cases, and publication of Forest Rights Act.

“To issue directions for the incorporation of the forest rights in the government records including Rights of records. To coordinate with other districts regarding inter-district claims,” the document said.

 Similarly, four member sub-district committee headed by Sub-District Magistrate has been tasked to raise awareness about the Forest Rights Act at Gram Sabha level and prepare the block or tehsil wise record of forest rights after reconciliation of government records.

The sub-district level committee shall provide the forest, revenue maps and electoral rolls to the Gram Sabha and examine the resolution and maps of Gram Sabha to ascertain the veracity of claims.

“The committee shall hear the petitions from persons including UT agencies, aggrieved by the resolutions of the Gram Sabha. It will also raise awareness among the forest dwellers about the objectives and procedures laid down under the act and in the rules,” it said.

Gujjars and Bakarwals have welcomed the step saying it will give the rights to tribals over forest land for habitation and livelihood.