Week after eviction drive, J&Okay to implement forest rights regulation by March 1

Written by Arun Sharma
| Jammu |

Up to date: November 19, 2020 1:31:13 am

PDP chief and former J&Okay CM Mehbooba Mufti in Lidroo village Monday. (Supply: Twitter)

Two days after PDP president and former Jammu & Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti visited nomadic tribal households in Anantnag district of South Kashmir and accused the Centre of driving out Muslim Gujjars and Bakarwals from their pastures in forest areas, the UT administration on Wednesday set March 1, 2021, because the deadline for granting them “forest rights’’.

The event – geared toward recognising the best of nomadic Gujjars and Bakarwals throughout J&Okay over the forests the place they reside in momentary constructions and the place their cattle graze — got here at a gathering chaired by Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam to overview the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Different Conventional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The Act, which supplies for granting of rights to forest dwellers throughout the nation, was earlier not relevant or carried out in J&Okay during the last 14 years. It turned relevant solely after the reorganisation of the erstwhile state on October 31, 2019, after the abrogation of Article 370.

Final week, the administration had launched a drive to demolish houses and seasonal hutments within the higher reaches of Pahalgam in Anantnag, saying it was clearing “illegally occupied” forest land.

Mehbooba had then hit out on the UT administration, accusing it of a witch-hunt towards these Muslim tribes and part of the “means of disempowerment and displacement that began with the abrogation of J&Okay’s particular standing”.

The Indian Express had reported how Central legal guidelines that defend tribals’ proper, together with the 2006 forest rights regulation and the SC/ST Act, weren’t being carried out on the bottom. These two legal guidelines have been cited by the Centre as “advantages” of abrogation of J&Okay’s particular standing.

Mentioning that work on its implementation had begun final month, an official assertion in Jammu stated that below the Act, forest dwelling STs and different conventional forest dwellers will probably be supplied with rights over forest land for the aim of “habitation, or self-cultivation/livelihood; possession, entry to gather, use, and eliminate minor forest produce, and entitlement to seasonal sources amongst others’’.

With a inhabitants of practically 12 lakh as per the 2011 Census, Gujjars and Bakarwals kind the third largest ethnic group in J&Okay after Kashmiris and Dogras. In the course of the erstwhile PDP-BJP coalition authorities, then forest minister Choudhary Lal Singh of the BJP had erected barbed wire fences to forestall Gujjars and Bakarwals from coming into the forests.

At Wednesday’s assembly, the Chief Secretary requested the forest division to right away represent a four-tiered construction – committees on the ranges of the state, district and sub-division, moreover a Forest Rights Committee – to implement the Act.

The assembly determined that the ‘survey of claimants’ can be accomplished by January 15, 2021, after which sub-divisional committees will full the method of scrutiny of claims and preparation of ‘document of forest rights’ by or earlier than January 31. District Degree Committees will then contemplate and approve the document and grant forest rights by March 1, 2021.

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