Srinagar: The implementation of the Forest Rights Act is strengthening the democracy at the grassroots level besides correcting the wrongs done in past by replicating the true spirit of the Act across Jammu and Kashmir.
An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that in September 2021, the J&K government scripted a historic chapter when Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, handed over individual and community rights certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar, Bakerwal, 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 the 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 with 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 the implementation of the 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 the Prime Minister, forest rights were conferred to the tribal community. J&K administration had been vigorously pursuing the ideals of establishing an equitable and just social order in J&K.
The J&K 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 the 14 lakh population of tribals and nomadic communities including Gujjar, Bakarwals, and Gaddi Sippis in J&K.
Nasir Hussain, Sarpanch of Mandi Poonch is grateful to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha for giving them rights on the forest land which was their long pending demand.
Similarly, the Sarpanch of Upper Pachwal Rajouri expresses gratitude to the Government of India for providing livelihood to the ST community under Forest Rights Act which was pending for the last 70 years.
These people have been living in the forests for centuries without any right over the forest land but the implementation of FRA proved to be of great help for these forest dwellers. The Act was a step toward 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.