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HC asks DCs to initiate process for verifying villagers� claims

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Sept 19 - Taking serious note of the failure of the government in doing the needful to ensure that STs and other traditional forest dwellers are not deprived of their benefits guaranteed under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the Gauhati High Court has directed the Kamrup and Kamrup Metro deputy commissioners to set in motion the process for verifying the claims of a number of villagers of the Garbhanga reserve forest area along the Assam-Meghalaya border as traditional forest dwellers.

Significantly, the court also directed all the respondents in various government departments to ensure that the existing facilities which are available as on today shall be properly maintained and also ensure that appropriates steps are to be taken by all concerned so that the other traditional forest dwellers are not deprived of the welfare measures undertaken by the government.

Chief Justice (Acting) Arup Goswami, while disposing of a PIL filed by the villagers alleging deprivation from basic amenities, ruled that the pleadings in the petition as well as in the affidavits filed by the respondent government authorities did not indicate under which the panchayat and the villages referred to by the petitioners fell or as to whether gaon sabhas had been constituted.

�As noticed, the gaon sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights or both that may be given to the forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers. Although there is a reference to the Forest Rights Committee (FRC), the same is stated to have been constituted by the forest office,� the court observed.

As per the provisions of the 2007 Rules, FRCs are to be constituted by the gaon sabha under Rule 3.

The court noted that while some FRCs had been constituted in some villages, and in some cases, the status of the claimants had been submitted to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC), it was the District Level Committee (DLC) headed by the Deputy Commissioner which was to consider and finally approve the claims and records of forest rights prepared by the SDLC.

On the deplorable condition of a forest road widely used by the villagers, the court directed the Forest department to improve the condition of the road. Advocate MK Das pleaded for the petitioners.

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HC asks DCs to initiate process for verifying villagers� claims

GUWAHATI, Sept 19 - Taking serious note of the failure of the government in doing the needful to ensure that STs and other traditional forest dwellers are not deprived of their benefits guaranteed under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, the Gauhati High Court has directed the Kamrup and Kamrup Metro deputy commissioners to set in motion the process for verifying the claims of a number of villagers of the Garbhanga reserve forest area along the Assam-Meghalaya border as traditional forest dwellers.

Significantly, the court also directed all the respondents in various government departments to ensure that the existing facilities which are available as on today shall be properly maintained and also ensure that appropriates steps are to be taken by all concerned so that the other traditional forest dwellers are not deprived of the welfare measures undertaken by the government.

Chief Justice (Acting) Arup Goswami, while disposing of a PIL filed by the villagers alleging deprivation from basic amenities, ruled that the pleadings in the petition as well as in the affidavits filed by the respondent government authorities did not indicate under which the panchayat and the villages referred to by the petitioners fell or as to whether gaon sabhas had been constituted.

�As noticed, the gaon sabha is the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights or both that may be given to the forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers. Although there is a reference to the Forest Rights Committee (FRC), the same is stated to have been constituted by the forest office,� the court observed.

As per the provisions of the 2007 Rules, FRCs are to be constituted by the gaon sabha under Rule 3.

The court noted that while some FRCs had been constituted in some villages, and in some cases, the status of the claimants had been submitted to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC), it was the District Level Committee (DLC) headed by the Deputy Commissioner which was to consider and finally approve the claims and records of forest rights prepared by the SDLC.

On the deplorable condition of a forest road widely used by the villagers, the court directed the Forest department to improve the condition of the road. Advocate MK Das pleaded for the petitioners.