Historically, usage of and access to forest resources by India’s Adivasi community and other forest dwellers have been considered encroachment and their efforts to acquire forest land have been used as evidence of their anti-development attitude. Government policy has continued to deny them legal rights to use, manage and conserve forest resources and to hold forest lands that they have been residing on and cultivating.
In 2006, the passage of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dweller’s (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (hereafter FRA) tried to make amends by recognizing the customary rights of forest dwellers, including the right over common areas and the right to manage and sell forest produce. However, the overall implementation of FRA still suffers from inadequate community awareness; conflicting legislation; the lack of a dedicated structure for implementation and devoted staff; administrative roadblocks to smooth processing of claims; and a governance deficit.
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