FRA: Forest Rights Act
FRA stands for Forest Rights Act, it was passed in the year 2006. It is also called as Tribal Bill, Tribal Rights Act, and Tribal Land Act. This Act will deal with the rights of the forest dwellers to land and various other resources which were denied to them for many decades.
People who favored this Act claim that it will correct the historical injustice that was done against forest dwellers in the past. This also included making the conservation even more effective and transparent all around. However, over some time, this FRA saw huge National Demonstrations covering hundreds of people across the country.
The rights of self-cultivation and habitation are covered under the Act of FRA, apart from this the normal individual rights, community rights, fishing access related to water bodies, habitat rights for PVTG’s will also be covered under this Act.
In simple terms, FRA gives rights to giving forest land for development. This is for helping the tribal communities with simple infrastructure and other requirements.
Through this facility, the tribal population is given some benefits to save them from eviction. This settlement is done together by the Rights to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Settlement Act, 2013.
The Forest Rights Act was initiated to help and save forest life while giving them access to many resources of the forest besides saving and conserving the forests. Through this Act, forest dwellers are given necessities like education, infrastructure, nutrition, and health.
To qualify for the FRA act, there must be three conditions that have to be fulfilled:
- There has to be a Scheduled Tribe in that area where the right is to be claimed.
- Must be primarily resident of forest or at least before date 13th Dec 2005.
- Depends on the forest land for Bonafide livelihood needs.
Objectives of FRA:
- One of the main objectives of the Forest Rights Act is to ensure land tenure and food security of forest dwellers.
- It includes all the scheduled tribes and traditional forest livings.
- Through this Act, the injustice which was done to the forest dwellers in the past will be undone in the future.
- The FRA helps in strengthening forest life and the rights of the forest holders.
- Through this Act, the biodiversity and ecological balance are maintained.
Why the FRA is necessary?:
Before independence, the British Raj used to exploit the forests and their resources for making huge revenues and stimulating the economic growth in the country. This caused huge damage to the natural habitat and affected the life of forest tribes.
Even after the independence, the situation did not improve much. Under the Indian Forest Rights Act, the forest territories were marked as Government forests due to improper supervision of the authorities.
During some governmental surveys, the land used to be recorded as government-owned land without proper investigation.
For maintaining the balance of forest life, this Act is very important that it came into existence.
Protection and Conservation of Rights:
Before the implementation of FRA, there were only Forest officers of the forest department who had the legal authority to protect the forests.
This caused a lot of chaos, as the forest officers used to function according to their mood and fancies. This was considered as the official work and worked on stopping them from misusing the power and services. The officers who did not follow the law were also categorized under criminal offense.
After the formation and implementation of the new FRA, the rights were given to the community helping in protecting and managing the forest. Section 3 of this Act deals with the conservation and protection of forest communities.
Is the FRA debatable?
However, considering all the favors which are being provided to the tribal people who live in the forest this FRA is considered to be having both positive as well as some negative attributes.
One of the main reasons that this Act is considered debatable is the rate at which its claims are being rejected. According to the critics, the three-level committee is rigid and arbitrary. There are many views on the Forest Rights Acts in India, during the time of legislation people objected to the existence of this Act.
The FRA has been a hot topic for many NGOs and activists who got involved in the participation at the national level. The political involvement also attracted many Left and Right leaders to speak up for this Act.
There has always been a conflict between the people who support tribal groups and their wellness and those who support the government.
To summarize, although this Act is under debate for many years, it has helped many forest dwellers and scheduled tribes to get a better life. Many of them were able to live a sustainable life with proper education, food, and health. When the country is making its progress towards growth and economy, taking care of such vulnerable groups is necessary for safeguarding their tradition and identity.