Karnataka is the least efficient in the line of distributing land deeds to tribals and forests dwellers who are settled in these lands for generations, compared to other states of South India, a recent data released showed.
The official report indicated that issues of non-dominant caste groups were least in the priority list of Karnataka and its political dispensation, Hindustan Times reported.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change informed that only 14,667 titles were distributed out of the total 275,446 applications received up till last year.
The residents are demanding proper titles for a total of 20,813.51 acres of forest land so they can remain in their natural habitat without being under the fear of being evicted.
Other Southern States
In comparison, Kerala has distributed 26,398 titles out of the total 43,331 requests they had received. Telangana has distributed 93,639 deeds, which accounts for a total of 300,284 acres out of the 183,252 claims they had received.
The data showed that Andhra Pradesh had distributed 96,675 titles, amounting to 239,554 acres out of the total 177,466 requests. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu received 33,755 claims but distributed 8,144 land titles, a total of 9,626.44 acres.
"There is a committee at taluk, gram and district level which decides these matters and the forest department is a part of it. If all criteria are met, then the process moves forward," the media quoted a senior government official.
To deal with thousands of requests and to assure protection for the vulnerable communities, the Basvaraj Bommai government set up a separate portfolio of Scheduled Tribe (ST) welfare.
Total Land Distributed
Reportedly, around 4,182,274 acres (1.69 million ha) of forest land in the country have been distributed, and 19,20,507 individual titles have been given to the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers till December 2020.
Dr Sharachchandra Lele, a fellow in Environmental Policy & Governance, told the media that the concern was not just about giving the land but recognizing that somebody has lived there for generations and holds ancestral value.
"It is about a recognition of a right these people had," he said, reported Hindustan Times.
Declaring forests as national reserves was earlier done in return for financial compensation. Still, it provided no hope for resettlement for those who were displaced from their homes due to development works and other reasons, he added.
Karnataka With Third Highest Land Encroachment
Karnataka has the third highest forest land under encroachment in India, with 6 per cent, after Madhya Pradesh and Assam, with 40 percent and 27 percent. These three states including Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh, account for 83 per cent of encroachment.