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FRA Campaign in Jharkhand

15 September 2016 Share: facebook share twitter share

“First we need to protect our golden property given to us by nature- our forests, land and water, then we can do the other chores,” says the Gram Pradhan of Muduh village, block Karra, Khunti district.

Women in a community mobilisation and sensitisation meeting in Jharkhand on the Forest Rights Act

In Khunti district again, Albret Tiru from Ganaloya Panchayat in Murhu block echoes, “Forests are the property that we inherited from our forefathers. We should join together and protect it.”

In Gumla district, the Mukhiyas of 13 panchayats in Sisai block have come together and have collectively decided to intensify Individual Forest Rights (IFR) and Community Forest Rights (CFR) claims generation. Vijay Topno, the Mukhiya of Ramtolya Panchayat , Kamdara block declares, “Forest is our natural abode given by God. Our first priority should be to protect and conserve it.”

In selected districts across Jharkhand empowered Gram Sabhas and communities are coming together to claim their ownership rights on the forests which they inhabit and depend on for their livelihood. This is a result of a joint campaign being implemented by PACS, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), communities, Gram Sabhas and the Department of Welfare, Government of Jharkhand, to strengthen the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Jharkhand.

The campaign has provided an opportunity for key stakeholders working on FRA in the state to come together on a common platform to ensure effective implementation of FRA. PACS has been leading the initiative and is providing technical support to the partner CSOs involved.  Despite the agricultural season the tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers joined the campaign in large numbers.

Under the campaign a total of 42,616 claims have been registered for IFR, and 557 for CFR at the Gram Sabha level till September 2016.  Out of these 18,450 IFR claims and 226 CFR claims have been submitted to the Sub Divisional Level Committee or the Circle Officer.

The Campaign

The campaign was initiated on the request of the Secretary, Department of Welfare, Government of Jharkhand in June 2016 in 13 districts of the state. Based on the successful results of the activities implemented, the Department of Welfare requested PACS in early September 2016 to extend the campaign to all the 24 districts of the state.

Objectives of the Campaign

One of the key reasons impeding the implementation of FRA in Jharkhand has been lack of generations of claims at the community level. Though the FRA empowers the Gram Sabhas or the Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) to initiate the claim making process, the Gram Sabhas are unable to mobilise the community as they are inadequately informed about the processes and provisions of the Act. The campaign seeks to address this gap with the following objectives:

  • to mobilize and empower the Gram Sabha and FRCs for claim generation under FRA, 2006
  • to identify and empower community leaders to facilitate the IFR claim generation
  • to empower the communities to retain control over natural resources

Activities

To meet the objectives following activities were implemented

  • Intensive awareness campaigns on the Act to increase the knowledge of the Gram Sabhas and the FRCs so they are better able to support communities to apply for IFR and CFR.
  • Van Adhikar Mitras (Forest Rights Friends) were trained to mobilize communities to claim for their rights, to provide hand-holding support to communities who are applying for their rights, and supporting them to follow up on rejected or pending claims.
  • Increasing the representation of socially excluded groups, especially women, on FRCs so that their voices and experiences are heard.

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