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Forest Rights Act stalled due to states' failure, Centre's legislation to dilute it: Congress

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that among the transformative 'Paanch NYAY Pachees Guarantee' of the party, one of the most important for tribal brothers and sisters is the guarantee on the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:12 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:12 IST

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New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday claimed that implementation of the Forest Rights Act has been stalled through a combination of state governments failing to implement it and the BJP-led Centre's legislation to 'dilute it', as the party promised that if it is voted to power a national mission will be focused on implementing the Act across India.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that among the transformative 'Paanch NYAY Pachees Guarantee' of the party, one of the most important for tribal brothers and sisters is the guarantee on the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

A historic legislation passed by the UPA in December 2006, the FRA empowers forest-dwelling communities to manage their forests - as they have for generations - and harvest forest produce for economic benefit, the former environment minister said on a post on X.

"Unfortunately, through a combination of state governments failing to implement the FRA and the Modi Sarkar's legislation to dilute it, FRA implementation has been stalled," he said.

Ramesh said that till today, in just three states, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, there is over one lakh sq km of eligible forest land that is not yet under FRA.

Out of 45 lakh claims submitted, only 23 lakh 'pattas' have been distributed, he pointed out.

Ramesh said the Congress has promised that within one year, all pending FRA claims will be resolved.

"A national mission, with a dedicated budget, will be focused on implementing the FRA across India," he said.

Ramesh said that 34.9 per cent of FRA claims across India have been rejected, amounting to over 17 lakh Adivasis and other forest dwellers denied their basic rights.

"We have promised that within six months, there will be a transparent process for review of all rejected FRA claims,' he said.

'The FRA provides for both individual and community rights. Both are important but the potential of the latter has not been fully realised," the Congress leader said.

In April 2011, Menda Lekha in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra became the first gram sabha to get control over the use of bamboo, he pointed out.

This resulted in Menda Lekha achieving financial independence, and a lot else, Ramesh added.

Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also listed the party's guarantees for the tribals.

"The aim of Congress is not only to protect jal, jungle and zameen, but also to ensure the participation of tribals in the building of modern India," Gandhi said in a post in Hindi.

Six resolutions of the Congress dedicated to the tribal society will protect the rights of the tribals by stopping the plunder of resources, he said.

The country will become strong only when the foundation is strong, Gandhi asserted.

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Published 18 April 2024, 08:12 IST

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