Oliver Springate‐Baginski & Madhu Sarin 
Can local people in the 
  forest landscapes of 
  India secure 
  India secure
  recognition of their 
  right to communi...
1. Context 
2. Forest Rights Act 2006 emergence
3. Study of implementation
4. State experiences
5. Conclusions
Forest 
Forest
Survey of 
India 2003
India 2003
1. Context
 ~320mha land area
 Indian forest cover –
 67.71mha of which ‘good’ 
 forest cover est. 48mha [FSI 
 2008]
  Le...
History of state forest appropriation
 Historically customary CPRs widespread 
 State appropriated forest post 1864 for ti...
The Forest Administration
  Composition and control of forest estate 
     23% of land area
  Extensive staff 
  Extensive...
The Range of Forest Rights Deprivations
The Range of Forest Rights Deprivations
Forest rights have been deprived in a rang...
Kumar et al. 2008 
FRA emergence
 Many millions severely negatively affected by forest rights 
 deprivations
    Hard to separate from wider ...
Renewed evictions 
   From 1996 public interest litigation (PIL) led to the Supreme Court pushing 
   full enforcement of ...
From: Campaign for Survival and Dignity 2005
Th E           f FRA 2006
The Emergence of FRA 2006
  2002 evictions led to concerted action under the national umbrella 
...
Breakthrough?
                g
‘… the forest rights on ancestral lands and their habitat were not 
  adequately recognize...
C.  The rights: Key Sections of the Act
‘3 (1) For the purposes of this Act the following rights which secure individual o...
Duties of holders of forest rights.
5. The holders of any forest right, Gram Sabha and village level 
   institutions in a...
Key rights: 
  Private rights to land in forests (up to 4ha)
  Collective rights to control manage and use forest land aro...
Recognition of Forest Rights Act 2006
    g                   g
  Implementation process/mechanism elaborated in Rules:
  ...
Local implementation
involves five key stages
1. The initial Gram Sabha meeting and formation of Forest 
    Rights Commit...
Potential Livelihood prospects?
    Freedom from harassment, rent seeking, 
    destruction of assets
    Reduced liveliho...
3. Research issues
3 Research issues
FRA came into force Jan 1st 2008
1. To what extent are legislated forest rights being...
Field study:
Field study:
23 study sites 
selected across 3 
states
West Bengal – 9
Orissa – 8
AP – 6

Reflecting range 
R...
AP Context
FRA implementation process in
A dh P d h
Andhra Pradesh
 Jan 2008 – Chief Minister issued ‘road map’ for rapid 
implementa...
Addariveedi Tribal hamlet, 
Panasanpal village
  some villagers have ‘patta’ land for 
  settled agriculture
  most depend...
Koluturu hamlet
O t      i AP t d t
Outcomes in AP to date (31 Aug 2009)
Private rights claims:
  In 6 AP study villages:
             d l...
AP FRA process review
 Local implementation through village (panchayat) not 
 hamlet (gram sabha) 
 Forest guard accompany...
FRA Implementation process in
           l
West Bengal 
state forest area: 12,343 sq. km.
 t t f      t      12 343     k
...
Process so far
4 month delay in commencement – local elections
Violations from the start – FD exerting controlling 
influe...
West Bengal
West Bengal
 UNAMBIGOUSLY WORST STATE FOR FRA
 the implementers are taking recourse to delay, non‐
 transparen...
FRA Implementation process in
FRA Implementation process in
ORISSA
Context
Large scale self 
initiated CF
process
 Slow start but increasingly responsive state
 State has issued best guidelines
 Dynamic NGO networks engaged with...
Conclusions
Co c us o s
 Symbolic and substantive victory: 
    ‘historical injustice’ finally recognised
    Law fundamen...
Policy / strategy recommendations:
Policy / strategy recommendations:
Where to from here?
 Social mobilisation to secure r...
The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006  and bureaucratic resistance to commoning e...
The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006  and bureaucratic resistance to commoning e...
The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006  and bureaucratic resistance to commoning e...
The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006  and bureaucratic resistance to commoning e...
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The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006 and bureaucratic resistance to commoning enclosures

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Presentation in Taking stock of smallholder and community forestry workshop
at session Smallholder and community forestry in South and Southeast Asia
by Oliver Springate-Baginski and Madhu Sarin
24-26 March 2010
Montpellier, France

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The struggle for access to forest justice in India: The Forest Rights Act 2006 and bureaucratic resistance to commoning enclosures

  1. 1. Oliver Springate‐Baginski & Madhu Sarin 
  2. 2. Can local people in the  forest landscapes of  India secure  India secure recognition of their  right to community  forestry (established  forestry (established de jure by the FRA  2006) against the  entrenched interests  h di of the forest  bureaucracy?y
  3. 3. 1. Context  2. Forest Rights Act 2006 emergence 3. Study of implementation 4. State experiences 5. Conclusions
  4. 4. Forest  Forest Survey of  India 2003 India 2003
  5. 5. 1. Context ~320mha land area Indian forest cover – 67.71mha of which ‘good’  forest cover est. 48mha [FSI  2008] Legal forest estate – ’recorded forest area’  ’ d df ’ ~76.96mha (23%)  [source &  date?] 1.1Bn popl 1 1B l >80m indigenous Poverty across forest areas Poffenberger & McGean 1997
  6. 6. History of state forest appropriation Historically customary CPRs widespread  State appropriated forest post 1864 for timber: On colonial principle that customary tenures were based on states  On colonial principle that customary tenures were based on states acquiescence, a ‘privilege’ which could be withdrawn. (Guha 1984 ‐ EPW)  Through due legal process of ‘settlement’: 1878 & 1927 Forest Acts Post independence continued appropriation Even due process often not completed especially post independence  (Ghosh et al. 2007 ODG)  Local people’s customary forest rights were widely deprived  Both collective & private extinguished, committed to insecure  privileges Both collective & private extinguished committed to insecure ‘privileges’  or ignored Even those not evicted have been criminalised for normal livelihood  practices Extreme conflict and numerous risings  ensued Extreme conflict and numerous risings ensued ‘Forest Department most unpopular arm of colonial regime’ continuing with Maoist groups, for whom forest rights are a major  manifesto issue. Expropriation process has continued to present E i ti h ti dt t
  7. 7. The Forest Administration Composition and control of forest estate  23% of land area Extensive staff  Extensive staff over 90,000 formal staff plus labourers  Policing and quasi‐judicial powers  to apprehend, judge and punish based on 1927 Forest Act Revenue generation ability Timber & NTFP (plus govt. & donor funds) (p g ) Own knowledge production  (research, training, survey) – appropriating the object of  knowledge (forest) with legitimating terms such as  scientific  knowledge (forest) with legitimating terms such as ‘scientific forestry’ Decisive influence over forest policy A durable semi‐autonomous power structure A durable semi‐autonomous power structure
  8. 8. The Range of Forest Rights Deprivations The Range of Forest Rights Deprivations Forest rights have been deprived in a range of different processes Rights deprived during settlement / forest reservation process disputes /  Rights deprived during settlement / forest reservation process disputes / unsurveyed villages Estate acquisition Shifting cultivation g ‘Encroachment’  ‘Forest villages’ ‘Primitive Tribal Groups’ Tribals without Scheduled Tribe status  Sacred groves National parks / sanctuaries Revenue forest boundary disputes,   R f tb d di t Joint Forest Management Self‐initiated forest protection (CFM) Earlier evictions Earlier evictions Displacement / ‘diversion’ of forest lands
  9. 9. Kumar et al. 2008 
  10. 10. FRA emergence Many millions severely negatively affected by forest rights  deprivations Hard to separate from wider context of marginalisation The most seriously affected are those rural communities living in and  The most seriously affected are those rural communities living in and depending on forests for cultivation, habitat and forest products.   ‘Scheduled’ tribes ‐ ~80M.    Forest governance affects the livelihoods of perhaps as many as 25%  275m  Khare / WB / ... / / Extreme livelihood insecurity: routine oppression / bribe seeking;  imprisonment, eviction & destitution; starvation deaths  Voluntary bureaucratic reform?  SF, JFM not CF (despite WB  CFM Voluntary bureaucratic reform? SF JFM not CF (despite WB ‘CFM’  inflation of terms):   no rights reform – ‘participation’ on FD terms Some donors withdrew (WB, DFID); some persisting in supporting (JICA) ( , ); p g pp g( )
  11. 11. Renewed evictions  From 1996 public interest litigation (PIL) led to the Supreme Court pushing  full enforcement of forest laws across India.  In 2002 Forest Departments interpreted a Supreme Court directive  to evict  all so called  encroachers in a time bound manner. (estimated to cover  all so‐called ‘encroachers’ in a time‐bound manner. (estimated to cover 1,250,000ha forest area under encroachment in eight states)  Evictions of forest dwellers and forest adjacent populations (seen as illegal  ‘encroachers’) were attempted in many states  ‘… more than 300,000 families across India were forcibly evicted. More than a  ‘ th 300 000 f ili I di f ibl i t d M th hundred villages were burned in Madhya Pradesh, eight people killed in  police firings and 40,000 families left homeless in Assam, and elephants  used against villagers in Maharashtra and Assam.  In many cases those  evicted had been cultivating from prior to 1980 ‐ and hence were legally  i t dh db lti ti f i t 1980 dh l ll entitled to their lands.’  CSD November 2007 – from depositions made at a public hearing
  12. 12. From: Campaign for Survival and Dignity 2005
  13. 13. Th E f FRA 2006 The Emergence of FRA 2006 2002 evictions led to concerted action under the national umbrella  2002 evictions led to concerted action under the national umbrella ‘Campaign for Survival and Dignity’ as well as through numerous other  groups  National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW),  Lok Sangharsh Morcha ‐ Gujarat,  Jan Sangharsh Morcha ‐ MP NAPM, ‐ Maharashtra Three years of complex drafting process and intense contestation from  Three years of complex drafting process and intense contestation from Ministry of Environment and Forests, and hard‐line ‘fortress  conservationists’ The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition  of Forest Rights) Act was passed in December 2006 of Forest Rights) Act was passed in December 2006 After further delays the Act came into force with issuing of Rules on Jan 1st  2008 CSD Website: www.forestrightsact.com
  14. 14. Breakthrough? g ‘… the forest rights on ancestral lands and their habitat were not  adequately recognized in the consolidation of State forests  during the colonial period as well as in independent India  resulting in historical injustice to the forest dwelling  Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers’ Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers’ aim:  ‘to recognise and vest the forest rights and occupation in  forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other  traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such  traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be  recorded; to provide for a framework for recording the forest  rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such  rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land’  (FRA 2006) The nodal agency for implementation is the Ministry of Tribal  The nodal agency for implementation is the Ministry of Tribal Affairs NOT the Ministry of Environment and Forests
  15. 15. C.  The rights: Key Sections of the Act ‘3 (1) For the purposes of this Act the following rights which secure individual or community 3. (1) For the purposes of this Act, the following rights, which secure individual or community  tenure or both, shall be the forest rights of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other  traditional forest dwellers on all forest lands, namely:‐ right to hold and live in the forest land … for habitation or for self‐cultivation for  livelihood … livelihood … community rights such as nistar [forest product collection] … right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce … other community rights of uses or entitlements such as fish and other products of water  bodies, grazing (both settled and transhumant) … bodies grazing (both settled and transhumant) rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and  pre‐agricultural communities rights in or over disputed lands … rights for conversion of Pattas or leases or grants … i h f i f l right of settlement and conversion of all forest villages, … right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage and community forest resource … Rights of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property .. g y y g p p y Any other traditional right customarily enjoyed by the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes or  other traditional forest dwellers … Right to in situ rehabilitation … 6(1) The Gram Sabha shall be the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature  6(1) The Gram Sabha shall be the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights or both …
  16. 16. Duties of holders of forest rights. 5. The holders of any forest right, Gram Sabha and village level  institutions in areas where there are holders of any forest right  under this Act are empowered  to‐ under this Act are empowered to protect the wild life, forest and biodiversity; ensure that adjoining catchments area, water sources and other  ecological sensitive areas adequately protected;  ecological sensitive areas adequately protected; ensure that the habitat of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and  other traditional forest dwellers is preserved from any form of  destructive practices  affecting their cultural and natural heritage; p g g ; ensure that the decisions taken in the Gram Sabha to regulate  access to community forest resources and stop any activity which  adversely affects the wild animals, forest and the biodiversity are  complied with complied with ;
  17. 17. Key rights:  Private rights to land in forests (up to 4ha) Collective rights to control manage and use forest land around  village under gram sabha village under gram sabha NTFP harvesting and marketing rights Conservation safeguards:  Critical Wildlife Habitats’ (CWH)
  18. 18. Recognition of Forest Rights Act 2006 g g Implementation process/mechanism elaborated in Rules: Nationally (federal) ‐ Ministry of Tribal Affairs State ‐ 3 departments: Tribal / Rural Development, Revenue,  Forest Local ‐ based on  the village gram sabha.  This will elect a Forest  Rights Committee to identify, verify and recommend claims National reform came into effect 1st Jan 2008 National level MoTA directed state governments... N i l l l M TA di d BUT implementation responsibility to state govt.s ‐ requires  transfer of control from FDs, who have long tradition of  transfer of control from FDs who have long tradition of paternal exclusionary relationship. ... to forest  communities, who have long history of marginalisation  and weak political organisation ...
  19. 19. Local implementation involves five key stages 1. The initial Gram Sabha meeting and formation of Forest  Rights Committee 2. FRC awareness‐raising, training 3. Distribution of claim forms and receipt.  3 Di ib i f l i f d i 4. Verification of claims (review, survey, mapping) 5. Final Issuing of titles 5 Fi l I i f titl
  20. 20. Potential Livelihood prospects? Freedom from harassment, rent seeking,  destruction of assets Reduced livelihood vulnerability ‐ very high  where households are liable to eviction  Improved income streams from range of rights  to manage forests and secure access to their  harvest.   Incentive for investing in land and forest ‐ land‐ based investment depends on security of tenure Recognition of cultivation rights over forest land  through its conversion to revenue land should  permit the right holders to gain access to  development inputs from other departments  which they are currently deprived of. which they are currently deprived of May allow access to credit on basis of patta (as  collateral) (although, since the titles will be  inalienable, special arrangements will be  required to facilitate access to formal credit)   required to facilitate access to formal credit) The benefit of land reform may be increased  with credit or other complimentary inputs (e.g.  water). 
  21. 21. 3. Research issues 3 Research issues FRA came into force Jan 1st 2008 1. To what extent are legislated forest rights being  secured?   2. What are the obstacles for local people to access their  2 Wh h b l f l l l h i CF rights? Modest research programme funded by DFID  Institutions  Modest research programme funded by DFID ‘Institutions for Pro‐Poor Growth’ Research Programme Consortium Late 2008‐10
  22. 22. Field study: Field study: 23 study sites  selected across 3  states West Bengal – 9 Orissa – 8 AP – 6 Reflecting range  Reflecting range of agro‐ecological  conditions,  administrative  d i i t ti structures and  rights deprivations
  23. 23. AP Context
  24. 24. FRA implementation process in A dh P d h Andhra Pradesh Jan 2008 – Chief Minister issued ‘road map’ for rapid  implementation (& cut‐off):  titles to be granted within 10 months focus on private claims – as if land grant patronage f l fl d inevitably this had to slide – still proceeding Extremely hasty local Committee formation (at panchayat  Extremely hasty local Committee formation (at panchayat level), ‘awareness raising’ and training The officials informed the villagers two days before their  visit,  the ‘Gram Sabha’ meeting for electing the FRC was held in  April 2008 at the Panchayat.  
  25. 25. Addariveedi Tribal hamlet,  Panasanpal village some villagers have ‘patta’ land for  settled agriculture most depend on ‘podu’ where no  most depend on podu where no rights are recognised.   On village forest land under JFM,  they have only tenuous usufruct  rights. rights
  26. 26. Koluturu hamlet
  27. 27. O t i AP t d t Outcomes in AP to date (31 Aug 2009) Private rights claims: In 6 AP study villages: d ll 63% private claims approved (176 claims ‐ mean 4.1 acres) Overall in state: 53% private claims approved (173,382 claims ‐ mean ~3.5 acres) Collective rights claims: In 6 AP study villages: In 6 AP study villages: 4 of 6 making range of collective claims (mean 71ha) status undecided Overall in state: Unclear picture: 2276  community certificate of titles issues to 784 949 Unclear picture: 2276 ‘community certificate of titles’ issues to 784,949  acres Through RTI it was discovered the majority are JFM committee claims!  ( (who have no right to claim) Forest Dep't attempting ‘coup’ t g ) p p g p
  28. 28. AP FRA process review Local implementation through village (panchayat) not  hamlet (gram sabha)  Forest guard accompanying and interfering at the point of  f f verification (have no authority to do so) FD taking over community forests through VSS ( CF coup ) FD taking over community forests through VSS (‘CF coup’) Schemes emerging to force people to have plantations on  granted lands granted lands Challenge to abuses from grass‐roots groups
  29. 29. FRA Implementation process in l West Bengal  state forest area: 12,343 sq. km. t t f t 12 343 k forest dependent est. ~8.3  million, ( 10% of state  million (~10% of state population) North: ‘Forest villages’ bonded  g labour SW: virtually all forest under  JFM
  30. 30. Process so far 4 month delay in commencement – local elections Violations from the start – FD exerting controlling  influence FRC hastily formed on multi‐village not on gram  sabha basis – quorum rarely achieved, FRC ‐ Membership on ad hoc selection ‐ G t FRC M b hi dh l ti Govt  officials made members! V. Poor awareness raising & training N. Bengal:  Conversion of ‘Forest Village’ not proceeding Community challenging FD control SW Bengal: Virtually no recognition of rights in JFM villages Wider political conflict has overtaken FRA  Wider political conflict has overtaken FRA process
  31. 31. West Bengal West Bengal UNAMBIGOUSLY WORST STATE FOR FRA the implementers are taking recourse to delay, non‐ transparency and different obstructions The affected people are becoming conscious of the  wrongs with the information being passed on to them  We expect that the implementation will improve with  the protests and objections of the people as already  seen in North Bengal.  seen in North Bengal Grassroots group has filed case against GoWB for  violating law violating law
  32. 32. FRA Implementation process in FRA Implementation process in ORISSA Context Large scale self  initiated CF
  33. 33. process Slow start but increasingly responsive state State has issued best guidelines Dynamic NGO networks engaged with state  administration Proactive process from Sec. Tribal Welfare – challenging  P i f S T ib l W lf h ll i FD staff hegemony effectively Proliferation of awareness raising / training facilitation  Proliferation of awareness raising / training facilitation going on. Belated but now good attention to community rights g y g PROBABLY BEST STATE
  34. 34. Conclusions Co c us o s Symbolic and substantive victory:  ‘historical injustice’ finally recognised Law fundamentally changed. Law fundamentally changed Rights being accorded ‐ Some individual rights ‐Very limited community  rights yet ‘Window of redress’ sought to be narrowed at every stage by  bureaucracy Pressure to complete process rapidly – distorting Poor awareness and understanding, even across implementers Focus on number targets not process quality – l d F b li leads to corruptions /  i / rent seeking / ‘time up’ / denial FDs seeking to curtail ‘window of opportunity’ and foreshortening  schedules No central interest in common rights MoTA extremely weak – pressure has been from Prime Ministers office Marginalised groups finding it hard to access justice ... But people are fighting 
  35. 35. Policy / strategy recommendations: Policy / strategy recommendations: Where to from here? Social mobilisation to secure rights remains essential BUT forest tribal groups remain poorly organised  compared to other hitherto marginalised groups NGOs, umbrella organisations and concerned individuals . Need for civil society capacity development  N df i il i i d l raise awareness at different levels, independently monitory,  transfer learning s between states transfer learning’s between states Use of parliamentary fora

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