Bhopal, June 18:Those who do not reside in forests by constructing houses but are dependent on forest lands for their livelihood would also be eligible for getting their rights on forest agricultural land recognised under the provisions of Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 and Rule 2008. The Union Tribal Affairs Ministry has made the situation clear in this regard.
In a letter to the state government, the ministry has said that many states have sought clarification about the phrases ‘forest dwelling scheduled tribes’ and those who ‘reside primarily in and who depend on forests and forest lands for bona fide livelihood needs’ enshrined in the Act. This issue was also raised at the meeting of the states held in New Delhi on February 18-19 and May 16, 2008 for review of the Act’s implementation.
After consulting these points with the Union Law and Justice Ministry, it has been made clear by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry that the phrase ‘reside primarily in forests’ also covers those members of scheduled tribes and traditional forest dwellers who either reside in forests by building a house/residence or eke out a livelihood by tilling a forest land themselves. Therefore, they pass most of their time there and for this purpose they have erected any temporary shanty, even thought they might reside in or outside forests. Thus, those people would be eligible for making a claim who have been cultivating lands in forests traditionally and are primarily residing in forest as per above definition.