As a first step, the government of Chhattisgarh recognized rights to community forest resources (CFR) in an urban area and in the central area of ââa tiger reserve.
A committee headed by a district collector may recognize the individual and community rights of tribals to forest land, with the exception of central areas of tiger habitat, where prior approval from the forestry department is required. Most tribal rights have been recognized in rural areas.
It would be the first time that tribals living in urban areas have obtained recognition of their community law. This means that as a community they would have grazing and harvesting rights in the nearby forest. The 2006 Forest Rights Act provides for individual and community forest rights, according to forest officials.
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Officials said tribes living in the Nagari, Churiyara and Tumbahara neighborhoods of Nagar Panchayat Nagari in Dhamtari district would be granted rights to community forest resources on their 10,200 acres of forest.
According to a state government decree, the rights recognized in municipal areas are spread over an area of ââ707.41 hectares for the sabha Nagari district, 678.18 hectares for the sabha Churiyara district and 2,746.742 hectares for the sabha district Tumbahara.
The government also recognized the rights to community forest resources of five villages on 13,700 acres of forest that extend into the central area of ââthe Sitanadi Udanti Tiger Reserve spanning two districts of Dhamtari and Gariyaband.
The rights recognized in the central zones of the Sitanadi Udanti zone extend over 975.58 hectares for Masulkhoi, 984.92 hectares for Karhi, 551.42 hectares for Joratarai, 1651.725 hectares for Bahigaon and 1389.615 hectares for Baroli.
âThis is the first time in the country that a government has recognized CFR rights under the 2006 Forest Rights Act for urban areas and the core area of ââa tiger reserve. These ward sabhas and gram sabhas would be able to protect, conserve, regenerate and manage the entire forest area located within the aforementioned traditional boundaries, âsaid a senior official working with the office of the chief minister.
Senior Chief Forestry Conservator Rakesh Chaturvedi said it was an important step to empower the state’s forest dwellers. âSoon, rights to community forest resources in other urban areas, if any, will be recognized by the government,â he said.
Saraswati Dhruw, member of the Sabha Nagari Constituency Forest Rights Committee, said about 47 meetings have been held in total to sensitize people and officials to the existence and process of community forest resource rights in urban areas.
âThe state government has taken welcome steps to provide CFR rights in urban areas and other protected areas in the state. We welcome this step and urge the government to grant more rights to the tribals and forest dwellers of the state, âsaid Alok Shukla, transporter of Chhattisgarh Bachaao Andolan.