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Centre moves SC seeking stay on eviction of 10 lakh forest dwellers

GUWAHATI: The Centre on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court in quest of a keep on its February 13 order to evict around 10 lakh woodland living scheduled tribes (FDSTs) and different conventional woodland dwellers (OTFDs), whose claims as woodland dwellers were rejected. The matter might be heard within the apex courtroom on Thursday.
On February 13, the bench of judges Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee had directed chief secretaries of 17 states — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — to make sure the eviction of all those persons from woodland land whose claims beneath the Forest Rights Act, 2006 were rejected on or ahead of July 24.

On Wednesday, the Union ministry of tribal affairs moved the Supreme Court, in quest of amendment of the order. It also asked the apex courtroom to direct the state governments to file detailed affidavits in regards to the procedure followed while examining all the claims and main points in regards to the grounds of rejection, until which period the eviction of FDSTs and OTFDs be placed on hold.

The ministry said that after examining the affidavits that have already filed by way of the state governments, it can't be ascertained whether or not the rejection orders had been passed after following due processes and whether or not the attraction mechanisms were properly exhausted.

In its application to the Supreme Court, the Centre said, “There isn't any provision within the Act which gives for eviction after a claim is rejected. The applicant respectfully states that the Act is a beneficial piece of regulation and merits to be construed liberally in favour of the FDSTs and OTFDs. The FDSTs and OTFDs are extremely deficient and illiterate other people and are not smartly knowledgeable of their rights and procedure beneath the Act. They are living in faraway and inaccessible areas of the woodland. It is tricky for them to substantiate their claims ahead of the competent authorities.”

The Centre further added that it has been periodically tracking the implementation of the Forest Rights Act by way of the state governments and it believes that the high charge of rejection of claims is most commonly because of a fallacious interpretation of the Act. It also underlined that there was once a lack of expertise about the procedure for filing claims among gram sabhas. In many cases, the reasons for rejections weren't communicated to the claimants, who in flip weren't ready to make appeals, the Centre added.

The apex courtroom order was once issued on February 13 following petitions that have been filed by way of an NGO, Wildlife First, and a couple of retired woodland officers way back in 2008. Arguing that the Right to Forest Act has ended in deforestation and encroachment of woodland land, the petitioners had sought recovery of woodland land from ownership of woodland dwellers. Assam has over 27,000 rejected claims, among which 22,396 are FDSTs and 5136 OTFDs. Madhya Pradesh has the best collection of rejected claims (about three.5 lakh), followed by way of Odisha (about 1.5 lakh). Uttarakhand has the least collection of rejected claims (51).

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