The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012 was passed to amend the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2008 that was in existence. This act recognises and vests forest rights and occupation of forest land with Scheduled Tribes (ST) and other traditional forest dwellers. Rights like right to collect and sell minor forest produce and right to live in forest land for habitation are covered. This rule shall come into force on date of publication in official gazette and extend to whole of India except State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Under this Rules Section 2 states about definitions of words like Act, Bonafide Livelihood needs, Claimant Community Rights, Disposal of Minor Forest Produce, Forest Rights Committee, Section are explained.

Under Section 2A the State government will ensure by identifying of hamlets and process of their consolidation and process of recognition and vesting of rights in these hamlets and habitations are done.

Section 3 states about Gram Sabha which shall be convened by Gram Panchayat and a Committee should be elected and not less than 1/3rd of it will be women. Forest Rights Committee will decide on a chairperson and secretary and a member of the committee will also be a claimant of individual forest right.

Section 4 states about the functions of Gram Sabha i.e. to determine nature and extent of forest rights, hear claims, prepare and maintain register relating to details of claimants, passing resolution on claims on forest rights, considering resettlement packages, constitute committees for protection of wildlife, forest and biodiversity, approve decisions of committees pertaining to issues of transit permits. Gram Sabha will get assistance from the state authorities.

Section 5 explains about sub-divisional level committee constituting sub-divisional officer or chairperson, forest officer or member, 3 members of block levelpanchayat nominated by District Panchayat of which 2 will be ST and an officer of tribal welfare department incharge of sub-division.

Sub-Divisional level committee’s functions include providing information to each Gram Sabha about their duties, providing forest and revenue maps and electoral rolls of Gram Sabha/Forest Rights Committee, collate resolutions of Gram Sabha, consolidate maps given byGram Sabha, examine resolution and maps of Gram Sabha, hear and adjudicate disputes between Gram Sabha and forest rights, hearing petitions for people aggrieved by resolution of Gram Sabha, prepare block draft record, etc.

District Level Committee is explained under Section 7 where State Government shall constitute the committee and members of it will be District Collector, Concerned Divisional Forest Officer, 3 members of district panchayat nominated by district panchayat of which 2 will be an ST and an officer of tribal welfare department in charge of the district.

Functions of District Level Committee is explained under Section 8 i.e. to ensure requisite information is provided to Gram Sabha, examine whether all claims have been addressed, consider and finally approve claims and record of forest rights, hear petitions from persons aggrieved by orders of sub-divisional level committee, co-ordinate with other districts relating to inter-state claims, issue directions for incorporation of forest rights etc.

State level monitoring committee will be formed constituting chief secretary, Tribal member, Forest Department member, PanchayatiRaj member, chief conservator of forests, 3 ST members, Commissioner.

Functions of State level monitoring committee are to devise criteria and indicators for monitoring the process of recognition, verification and vesting of forest rights, taking appropriate action against concerned authorities upon receipt of notice.

Procedure for filing, determination and verification of claims by Gram Sabha is explained under Section 11. Process of verifying claims by forest rights committee is explained under Section 12. Process of recognition of rights is stated under Section 12A, and process of recognition of community rights is stated under Section 12B.

Public documents, government records, survey reports, maps satellite imagery, working plans, forest enquiry reports, record of rights, reports of committee, physical attributes such as house, huts, statement of elders reduced to writing, genealogy tracing ancestry of individuals are all accepted as evidence to determine forest rights.Petitions to sub-divisional level committee is explained under Section 14 and petition to district level committee is stated under Section 15 and post claim support and hand holding to holders of forest rights are explained under Section 16 under the Rule.

by Sushma Javare.