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Institutional Mechanisms under FRA in Odisha

Prepared by: Hitabhilash Mohanty, LLM in Human Rights

INTRODUCTION

Gram Sabha under Section 6 (1) of FRA is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights or both that may be given to the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers within the local limits of its jurisdiction under this Act by receiving claims, consolidating and verifying them and preparing a map delineating the area of each recommended claim in such manner as may be prescribed for exercise of such rights and the Gram Sabha shall, then, pass a resolution to that effect and thereafter forward a copy of the same to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee.

GRAM SABHA

(1) The Gram Sabhas shall be convened by the Gram Panchayat and in its first meeting it shall elect from amongst its members, a committee of not less than ten but not exceeding fifteen persons as members of the Forest Rights Committee, wherein at least two-third members shall be the Scheduled Tribes: Provided that not less than one-third of such members shall be women; Provided further that where there are no Scheduled Tribes, at least one third of such members shall be women.

(2) The Forest Rights Committee shall decide on a chairperson and a secretary and intimate it to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee.

(3) When a member of the Forest Rights Committee is also a claimant of individual forest right, he shall inform the Committee and shall not participate in the verification proceedings when his claim is considered.

(4) The Forest Rights Committee shall not reopen the forest rights recognized or the process of verification of the claims already initiated before the date of coming into force of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendments Rules, 2012.]

Functions of the Gram Sabha: (Rule 3, 4):

 1. The Gram Sabha shall

  • initiate the process of determining the nature and extent of forest rights, receive and hear the claims relating thereto;
  • prepare a list of claimants of forests rights and maintain a register containing such details of claimants and their claims as the Central Government may by order determine;
  • pass a resolution on claims on forest rights after giving reasonable opportunity to interested persons and authorities concerned and forward the same to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee; 7
  • Consider resettlement packages under clause (e) of sub section (2) of section 4 of the Act and pass appropriate resolutions; and
  • Constitute Committees for the protection of wildlife, forest and biodiversity, from amongst its members, in order to carry out the provisions of section 5 of the Act.
  • monitor and control the committee constituted under clause (e) which shall prepare a conservation and management plan for community forest resources in order to sustainably and equitably manage such community forest resources for the benefit of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers and integrate such conservation and management plan with the micro plans or working plans or management plans of the forest department with such modifications as may be considered necessary by the committee.]
  • approve all decisions of the committee pertaining to issue of transit permits, use of income from sale of produce, or modification of management plans.

2. The quorum of the Gram Sabha meeting shall be not less than one-half of all members of such Gram Sabha:

  • Provided that at least one-third of the members present shall be women;
  • Provided further that where any resolutions in respect of claims to forest rights are to be passed, at least fifty per cent of the claimants to forest rights or their representatives shall be present;
  • Provided also that such resolutions shall be passed by a simple majority of those present and voting.

SUB-DIVISIONAL LEVEL COMMITTEE

The Sub-Divisional Level Committee is constituted by the State government with the following members:

  • Sub-Divisional Officer or equivalent officer – Chairperson;
  • Forest Officer in charge of a Sub-division or equivalent officer – member;
  • Three members of the Block or Tehsil level Panchayats to be nominated by the District Panchayat of whom at least two shall be the Scheduled Tribes preferably those who are forest dwellers, or who belong to the primitive tribal groups and where there are no Scheduled Tribes, two members who are preferably other traditional forest dwellers, and one shall be a woman member; or in areas covered under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, three members nominated by the Autonomous District Council or Regional Council or other appropriate zonal level, of whom at least one shall be a woman member;
  • An officer of the Tribal Welfare Department in-charge of the Sub-division or where such officer is not available the officer in-charge of the tribal affairs.

Functions of the Sub-Divisional Level Committee

Raise awareness among forest dwellers about the objectives and procedures laid down under the Act and in the rules ;

  • Provide such information and records as has been asked by the Gram Sabha or the FRC and to facilitate clarification of the same through an authorized officer, if required.
  • Provide forest and revenue maps and electoral rolls to the Gram Sabha or the Forest Rights Committee; y Ensure that the Gram Sabha meetings are conducted in free, open and fair manner with requisite quorum.
  • Ensure easy and free availability of proforma of claims to the claimants as provided in Annexure I (Forms A, B & C) of these rules;
  • Collate all the resolutions of the concerned Gram Sabhas;
  • Consolidate maps and details provided by the Gram Sabhas;
  • Examine the resolutions and the maps of the Gram Sabhas to ascertain the veracity of the claims; y Hear and adjudicate disputes between Gram Sabhas on the nature and extent of any forest rights;
  • Co-ordinate with other Sub-Divisional Level Committees for inter su-bdivisional claims ;
  • Prepare block or tehsil-wise draft record of proposed forest rights after reconciliation of government records;
  • Forward the claims with the draft record of proposed forest rights through the Sub-Divisional Officer to the District Level Committee for final decision;

DISTRICT LEVEL COMMITTEE

The District Level Committee is constituted by the State Government with the following members:

  • District Collector or Deputy Commissioner – Chairperson;
  • Concerned Divisional Forest Officer or concerned Deputy Conservator of Forest – member;
  • Three members of the district panchayat to be nominated by the district panchayat, of whom at least two shall be the Scheduled Tribes preferably those who are forest dwellers, or who belong to members of the primitive tribal groups, and where there are no Scheduled Tribes, two members who are preferably other traditional forest dwellers, and one shall be a woman member; or in areas covered under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, three members nominated by the Autonomous District Council or Regional Council of whom at least one shall be a woman member; and
  • An officer of the Tribal Welfare Department in-charge of the district or where such officer is not available, the officer in charge of the tribal affairs.

Functions of District Level Committee

  • Ensure that the requisite information under clause (b) of rule 6 has been provided to Gram Sabha or Forest Rights Committee;
  • Examine whether all claims, especially those of primitive tribal groups, pastoralists and nomadic tribes, have been addressed keeping in mind the objectives of the Act;
  • Consider and finally approve the claims and record of forest rights prepared by the Sub-Divisional Level Committee;
  • Co-ordinate with other districts regarding inter-district claims;
  • Issue directions for incorporation of the forest rights in the relevant government records including record of rights;
  • Ensure publication of the record of forest rights as may be finalized;
  • Ensure that a certified copy of the record of forest rights and title under the Act, as specified in Annexures II and III to these rules, is provided to the concerned claimant and the Gram Sabha respectively ;
  • Ensure that a certified copy of the record of the right to community forest resource and title under the Act, as specified in Annexure IV to these rules, is provided to the concerned Gram Sabha or the community whose rights over community forest resource have been recognized under clause (i) of sub-section (1) of section 3.

STATE LEVEL MONITORING COMMITTEE (SLMC)

The State Level Monitoring Committee is constituted by the State Level Monitoring Committee with the following members,

  • Chief Secretary – Chairperson;
  • Secretary, Revenue Department – member;
  • Secretary, Tribal or Social Welfare Department – member;
  • Secretary, Forest Department – member;
  • Secretary, Panchayati Raj – member;
  • Principal Chief Conservator of Forests – member;
  • Three Scheduled Tribes member of the Tribes Advisory Council, to be nominated by the Chairperson of the Tribes Advisory Council and where there is no Tribes Advisory Council, three Scheduled Tribes members to be nominated by the State Government;
  • Commissioner, Tribal Welfare or equivalent who shall be the Member- Secretary.

Functions of the State Level Monitoring Committee

  • Devise criteria and indicators for monitoring the process of recognition and vesting of forest rights;
  • Monitor the process of recognition, verification and vesting of forest rights in the State;
  • Meet at least once in three months to monitor the process of recognition, verification and vesting of forest rights, consider and address the field level verification and vesting of forest rights, consider and address the field level problems, and furnish a quarterly report in the format appended as Annexure V to these rules, to the Central Government on their assessment regarding the status of claims, the compliance with the steps required under the Act, details of claims approved, reasons for rejection, if any and the status of pending claims; y on receipt of a notice as mentioned in section 8 of the Act, take appropriate actions against the concerned authorities under the Act;
  • monitor resettlement under sub-section (2) of section 4 of the Act;
  • Specifically monitor compliance of the provisions contained in clause (m) of sub-section (1) of section 3 and sub-section (8) of section 4.