Forest Rights Committees to accept claims on Forest land from today

The Forest Rights Committees under Forest Rights Act will start to accept claims on Forest land from the tribals and other forest dwellers in Jammu and Kashmir from Friday, January 15.

In Jammu Region, eviction of tribal community from the forest land had become a political issue where questions were raised on the alleged selective approach of several departments.

Under the Forest Right Act, the tribals and other forest dwellers will have to approach the Forest Rights Committees/Gram Sabhas with their claims on the forest land they are holding in J&K.

However, there are reports that municipal areas in Jammu have still not constituted any Forest Rights Committees.

Administrative Secretary, Tribal Affairs, Rehana Batul, said: “Forest Rights Committees are being constituted. They are almost complete except in snowbound areas and difficult areas.”

Batul said: “The Forest Rights Committees would be accepting claims (from January 15, 2021) under the Forest Rights Act. In rural areas Gram Sabha is already available and in some of the municipal areas, questions have been raised. It has to be done in all areas wherever the tribal population exists.”

She, however, said that under the Forest Rights Act it has been clearly maintained that the Act will be implemented in rural as well as in urban areas.

“Administration is dealing with issues. The committees have been constituted and we are addressing all those issues where it could not be done,” she said, while hailing the Deputy Commissioners for their coordination.

From January 15, she said, the individual claims on the forest rights will be accepted by the Forest Rights Committee.

Corporator Ward number 71 (Sidhra), Jammu Municipal Corporation, Shama Akhtar told the Greater Kashmir: “No Forest Rights Committee has been constituted in my ward even as the area has a vast tribal population. We are in fix who will accept the claims of tribals and forest dwellers. However, we continue to hold awareness camp among the tribal population.”

A tribal leader who wished not to be quoted said: “In municipal limits, the Forest Rights Committees have not been constituted especially in Jammu Division. We do not know the reason. If these committees still have not been constituted then who will accept the claims of the tribals and other forest dwellers?”

Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation, Avny Lavasa was not available for comments despite repeated attempts by this reporter.