In a first, Chhattisgarh conceded 'Community Forest Resource Rights' in an urban area on Monday, August 9, with the state government recognising the rights of residents of Dhamtari district over 4,127 hectares of forests.
It includes 707.41 hectares for Nagari ward, 678.18 hectares for Churiyara, and 2,746.74 hectares for Tumbahara ward, The Indian Express reported.
The 5,544 hectares of forest within the area of the Sitanadi Udanti Tiger Reserve were also recognised. The area includes regions like Masulkhoi, Karhi, Joratarai, Bahigaon, and Baroli.
According to the report, it was a long-time request of the residents to receive recognition for these regions. They had approached the government authorities and staged protests several times but received no response. They were once told that the process of recognition would eventually be dismissed.
Addressing the citizens on the occasion of International Day of the World's Indigenous People, in Raipur, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel assured the government would speed up the process. Baghel said the rights and policies for the tribals were his government's priority.
Forest Resource Rights Act
As the Ministry of Tribal Affairs states, The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 recognises the rights of the forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional dwellers to forest resources. These communities were dependent on these forests for livelihood, habitation, and other socio-cultural needs.
The Act gives the local authorities (or gram sabhas) the right to protect, regenerate and manage any community forest resource they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
Speaking to the media, Birbal Padmakar, the forest rights committee president from Joratarai village, conveyed his gratitude to the government. "We have also been lathi-charged while demanding our rights. It is a relief that finally the government took cognisance," he said, according to The Indian Express.
Atlas Of Tribal Communities
The minister also revealed the atlas of tribal communities residing in Chhattisgarh, along with a five-part teaching module on the development of tribal regions. Nearly 31 percent of the state's population is of tribals.