Centre moves SC on eviction of tribals from forest areas

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS): | Publish Date: 2/28/2019 12:00:00 AM IST

The Centre on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its February 13 order directing the states to evict “forest-dwelling scheduled tribes” (FDSTs) and “other traditional forest dwellers” (OTFDs) from the forest areas. The February 13 order of the apex court order is applicable for the forest-dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims have been rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The Centre in its modification application has urged the court to “pass an order modifying order dated 13.2.2019 and directing the state governments to file detailed affidavits regarding the procedure followed and details of the rejection of claims of FDSTs and OTFDs” under the 2006 Act. The Centre has pointed to the historical proximity of the forest-dwelling communities including tribes with forest lands and referred to the National Forest Police (NFP)’s view to buttress its contention.

The NFP says that “having regard to the symbiotic relationship between the tribal people and forests, a primary task of all agencies responsible for forest management, including the forest development corporations, should be to associate the tribal people closely in the protection, regeneration and development of forests, as well as to provide gainful employment to people living in and around the forest”.

Referring to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the Centre has submitted that the statute was enacted to “correct the historical process by which tribal and other forest-dwelling communities in the country were alienated from their right to habitation and right to occupy and hold forest land and forest produce”.

It has further underlined that the “statute is predominantly enacted to protect the marginalized socio-economic class of citizens and balances the right to environment with the right to life and livelihood”. The application for the modification of February 13 order has also referred to international conventions and declarations that are binding on it and India “having actively participated in the formulation of these legal principles is constitutionally bound to ensure that these are implemented within the country in letter and spirit”.


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