Bhubaneswar. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity has planned to launch a state-wide protest in Odisha along with other like minded organisations demanding the repeal of the compensatory afforestation act of 2016.
CSD, which campaigned for the enactment of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, across the country, is opposing the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016, enacted by the BJP government at the centre because it is “anti-tribal and anti-forest dwellers”.
“Compensatory afforestation projects can only be implemented after recognition and vesting of rights under FRA. Compensatory afforestation funds must directly be transferred to the gram sabhas, which are legally empowered to manage and conserve forests, and all CA activities must be done with free, prior and informed consent of gram sabhas,” said Manohar Chauhan of the CSD’s Odisha Chapter on Tuesday.
In Odisha, at least, 32,711 villages are eligible for community forest right recognition as they have forest land within their revenue village boundaries. These villages are concentrated mostly in the tribal districts of the state.
Over 23 lakh hectares of forests can be given community forest rights in the state. However, in last ten years only 6% of this potential has been achieved. “The CAF Act threatens this potential by completely bypassing the FRA,” Chouhan said.
According to CSD, compensatory afforestation funds have already been used on a wide scale in Odisha to set up plantations under schemes such as Ama Jungla Yojana which promotes Vana Surakshya Samitis (JFMCs) of the forest department that is in conflict with gram sabhas recognised under FRA as the authority.
A study by CSD of the impact of these plantations on the rights and livelihoods of communities revealed that the funds were a tool to grab lands, forcibly dispossess and illegally relocate communities from their traditional livelihood resources.
FRA has brought 47% of India’s forests land under the democratic and sustainable management of gram sabhas, recognising community and individual rights, and their exclusive authority to manage customary forests. But estimates suggest that only 3% of the actual potential of FRA has been realised through formal recognition of CFRs.