Actual forest cover unclear as orchards, tea/coffee/coconut/rubber/agroforestry plantations, sugarcane & cotton fields included in ‘forest cover’
20% of even RFs have no cover
Dismal condition of land records
FD and RD records don’t tally
Accdng to MoEF, RFA = 77 million ha
Accdng to MoA, RFA = 67.87 mha
9.13 mha ‘disputed’ between them with millions of farmers caught in the middle
12.37 lakh ha disputed in MP alone
3 lakh ha disputed in just 4 districts of Maharashtra
Between 1951- 88, ‘national’ forest estate was enlarged by 26 million ha (from 41 to 67 mha) through sweeping notifications
Poorly surveyed tribal areas bore the brunt of this ‘statization’ spree.
Sixty per cent of forest cover today concentrated in 187 tribal districts confined to only one-third of the country (a lot in the NE outside ‘state’ forests).
Large numbers of STs disenfranchised of their customary resource rights through blanket notifications without even their knowledge and labelled ‘encroachers’ on their ancestral lands.
FCA further trapped several million forest dwellers as illegal occupants of their own lands through freezing land use based on unsound paper records.
The Situation in Orissa -1
Huge areas under princely states declared ‘deemed’ forests without any ecological surveys or settlement of rights;
40% of RFs never surveyed, predominantly shifting cultivation lands
55% of RFA under RD as it is in villages, Orissa revenue settlement rules require 10% of village area to be reserved as gramya jungle
100s of villages and lands cultivated since generations still unsurveyed but recorded as govt lands
The Situation in Orissa -2
ST population = 22.2%
Schedule V (tribal maj.) area = 44.7%
BPL population (all Orissa) = 47%
BPL – STs = 73%
BPL STs in south Orissa = 87%
6 to 8000 villages protecting forests but no FD recognition
The Situation in Orissa -3
Scheduled Areas – 74% land declared govt. land (48% forest, 26% revenue).
Lands with over 10 degree slope not surveyed because ‘too expensive’
23% STs landless
40.5% STs own under 2.5 acres
In PTG and shifting cultivation areas, almost all land declared govt. property due to non-recognition of communal tenures
Corrupt settlement officers recorded even irrigated paddy fields as RFs
The Situation in Orissa - 4
Officially only 5113 ha pre-80 ‘encroachment’
Only 29 ha ‘regularised’ in 25 years
Lakhs displaced without rehabilitation
Official records bear little relation with ground reality; double displacement for ‘compensatory afforestation’
In just last 5 years, 1224 ha of illegal forest diversion by mining cos regularised.
The case of Andhra Pradesh - 1
RFA 63,821 sq km (23.2%); FC 44,637 sq km (16.15%)
62% of RFA in Tribal areas
60% Sch V Tribal area been declared RF
25.11.1978 GO extended AP Forest Act, “All lands in the SAs containing trees, shrubs and coppice growth shall be forest”.
21,210 kms of forest boundary disputed
The case of Andhra Pradesh - 2
Only 9.8% to max 33% area in Scheduled districts under cultivation
Fallow shifting cultivation lands declared ‘forests’ and few pattas given for cultivated lands.
77,661 acres of pre-80 cultivated land not regularised but brought under JFM
3.25 lakh ha labeled ‘encroachment’
Poor procedures and unsound premises for defining and identifying forests: The national forest estate assembled through unsound processes, resulting in serious tenurial and land use conflicts, unclear boundaries, jurisdictional disputes between departments & communities & inappropriate management objectives for non-forest lands declared state ‘forests’ through sweeping notifications.
Is FD or Community Conservation more effective?
Nagaland: RFA 52.0%; FC 82%; notified forest –only 6% of FC
Mizoram: RFA 79.3%; FC 87.4%; notified forest – 61% of FC but not ‘settled’
Arunanchal Pradesh: RFA 61.5%; FC 81.2%; 60% of RFA is highly disputed ‘unclassed state forest’
In Uttaranchal, VP forests as good as RFs despite no support
Widespread Community conservation across country
Village communities are not only protecting forests but a whole range of ecosystems and habitats across the country. However, they have no legal rights or authority to do so.
In most cases, community initiatives have come up after acute degradation and realisation of it’s impact on lives and livelihoods
What is the legal situation?
Sep 1990 circulars of MoEF (still unimplemented)
FP (1) Review of encroachments on forest land.
FP (2) Review of disputed claims over forest land, arising out of (faulty) forest settlement.