Press Trust of India

JK, Sikkim skip FRA review meet in Delhi

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New Delhi: The number of cases where tribal and non-tribal dwellers could be evicted from forest lands has “reduced considerably” after a review of rejected claims for ownership rights under the Forest Rights Act, officials said Wednesday.
The Supreme Court on February 13 had ordered eviction of 11.8 lakh “illegal forest dwellers” whose claim for land rights had been rejected by authorities. However, on February 28, it stayed the ruling and directed states to file affidavits detailing the process adopted in rejecting the claims.
At a meeting in March, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs asked the states to carry out a village-level scrutiny of 19.50 lakh rejected cases and file their affidavits in the Supreme Court by July 12.
The ministry had said that according to data from the states, around 40.50 lakh claims had been filed under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Land titles had been granted in around 18.50 lakh cases and 2.50 lakh were pending.
Representatives of the states discussed the matter in detail at a meeting on Tuesday, MoTA Secretary Deepak Khandekar said.
“Barring Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, all the states concerned attended the meeting. They have reviewed the cases and segregated information,” he said.
“The states are preparing reports which will have information related to cases in which eviction may take place… Now that number is pretty small…it has reduced considerably. The matter highlighted in February is practically over,” the official said, refusing to give the details.
The states will inform the ministry about the number of such cases and thereafter, the affidavits will be submitted to the Supreme Court on July 12, he said.
Khandekar said the reduction in number of rejected cases can be attributed to elimination of “duplication and wrongful rejections”.
“For example, there were cases where the husband and wife both had claimed ownership of the same property. So the ownership has been granted and the other claim has been junked… Also, there were instances where a person filed multiple applications for one property,” he said. (PTI)

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