When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006, popularly known as ‘Forest Right Act’ came into existence, the Indian government raised the hope among the tribal communities, in terms of the secured livelihood and reduced vulnerability. The highlight behind the enactment of this act was the historic injustice done to forest-dwelling communities, particularly in the tribal areas of India. This act acknowledged the sufferings undergone by the forest dependent people since the initiation of modern forest administration under the British rule and it has been a reason to regret that the same policies were carried forward into independent India.
Anyway, the year 2006 could be said a new beginning when the Ministry of Tribal Affairs got the act. The act promises to realise the claims of tribal and other forest dwelling communities over the dwelling and cultivation of forest land as their livelihood generating activities. The act also provides the complete rights on the non-timber forest produce, NTFP, minor forest produce and management and protection rights over resources which also includes the community rights given to the different forest dependent communities. The process of implementation of this act begins right from the Gram Sabha where Forest Right Committees gets power and authority to assist and verify the approval of claims made by the people.
The act becomes more important for the states having large tribal population and large forest cover. In this context, the state Jharkhand comes in front when we talk about tribal population vis-à-vis rights given to them under forest right act. The mass exploitation of the natural resources available in the state has become a grave matter of concern for dependent people and also for the continuous changing government. On this backdrop in mind, this writing tries to portray the implementation and condition of forest right act in Jharkhand state.
Jharkhand and Forest: A symbiotic relationship
Jharkhand is a state with lot of geographical area covered with forest. In fact the name Jharkhand itself suggests the presence of dense forest in the state. If we will go with figures, then, under total geographical area of 79,714 Sq. km, the share of forest area is 23,605.47 Sq. km. So, in this way, we can see that the 29.61 percent of total area comes under forest part. Also, there are many districts with more than 35 percent of area under forest cover. The area of reserved forest is 4,387.20 Sq. km, protected forest is 19,184.78 Sq. km, and unclassed forest is 33.49 km. Again, the total percentage of the tribal population to the state’s total population is 22.5 percent. So, with so much of tribal population and so much of geographical area with forest cover, it is very important to have a look on the issue of implementation of Forest Right Act in the state. It becomes more important when we see the dependency of the local people over forests. If we leave the...