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Mar 21, 2017

Lessons from the Grassroots

Oxfam India

A woman member of Community Forest Resource Management Committee (CFMC) of Gujurwar village in Chhattisgarh  along with other members  while delineating the traditional boundary of CFR area, painting the boundary pillars.

Chalkari Kala village (Jharkhand): Geeta Devi’s quest to find why they were still poor in spite of living in natural resource rich villages brought her out of the home. She took a lead in organising women of her area and joined the struggle to get rights over forest land they lived on. Their persistence bore fruit. For the first time joint titles on forest land under individual occupation has been recognised through the Forests Rights Act, 2006. In her village, all 14 land titles allocated are in the name of both wife and husband. 

Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) is a landmark legislation to address the historical injustice done to the forest dwelling communities and an attempt to recognise and record their existing rights on forest land. 

Enactment of FRA, 2006 provides a strong rights-based framework for forest dependent communities for security over the tenure to which they can hold land, access and control over forest resources to strengthen their livelihoods. Gram Sabhas have also been empowered so as to play a central role in supporting these communities. 

The Promise and Performance Report: Ten years of  the Forest Rights Act In India by Community Forest Rights-Learning and Advocacy supported by Oxfam India reveals interesting facts. It indicates that approximately 100 million acres or 40 million hectares area are eligible for CFR recognition. However, the performance against the promise is hugely dismal. In 10 years, only 3 per cent of the minimum potential of CFR rights could be achieved

Forest Rights Act have huge potential to transform forest governance, create space for democratic community-based forest management and alleviate poverty. It has the potential to provide livelihood security for  forest dwelling communities too.

Oxfam India is working in the tribal and forest dominated states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The focus is on ensuring that rights of vulnerable forest dependent communities are realised, and they are empowered to manage and govern their natural resources.

On International Day of Forests, we urge the Government of India to fulfill its promise of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. We urge them to recognise the transformative  potential of the Forest Rights Act, ensure recognition of forest rights to all eligible forest right holders and their communities.


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