ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Who Is the Encroacher of Tribal Lands?

The present forest and wildlife conservation practices require a serious rethink.

 

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (henceforth, Forest Rights Act) were aimed at undoing the historical injustices that tribes have suffered for centuries. Their forest rights are now in jeopardy following the Supreme Court’s order directing states to evict tribes and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims for recognition of their rights have been rejected. The order is going to affect over 10 lakh families across 16 states, and may cover a much larger number considering that there are other states that are yet to make submissions to the apex court. It has come in the wake of petitions filed by Wildlife First, a non-governmental organisation and a few retired forest officials challenging the legality of the Forest Rights Act. At the time of going to the press, the Supreme Court has stayed this order and directed the states to submit details of the process adopted inrejection of claims under the Forest Rights Act. However, this can be seen as only a temporary relief.

This is not the first time that the apex court has ordered the eviction of tribes from their traditional and ancestral land. It did so earlier too on a similar petition resulting in countrywide evictions between 2002 and 2004. This process was marred by violence, deaths, protests, and uprooting of around 3 lakh households. The recent order has also foregrounded the attitude and disposition of the government towards the tribes and theissues that affect them. Indeed, this order would have been different, perhaps, had there been government lawyers todefend the interests of the tribes.

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Updated On : 5th Mar, 2019

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