How did the indigenous population of Gadchiroli District claim their community forest rights while the rest of India falls behind?
While the law recognizes the rights of traditional forest dwellers to own land, only 63% of the districts in the Indian State of Maharashtra have zero compliance. Gadchiroli district, however, is an exception.
The Forest Rights Act, 2006 recognizes the rights of forest dwellers to own and govern forest lands in their possession, with the objective of ensuring local and self-governance of forest rights by the community. However, the implementation of this law has been slow or uncertain owing to government officials’ reluctance in procuring land titles in forests that are deemed an invaluable resource. Despite the widespread hurdles involving claim process delays in Maharashtra, Gadchiroli district stands out as a shining example where 66% of the title claims have already been processed.
Constitutional victory for the gram sabha of Lavari
The Lavari Case Study provides an insight on how ninety odd households, all tribal, in a neglected corner of India created history by becoming the first Gram Sabha in the country who exercised their rights, as per the Community Forest Right conferred on the Gram Sabha of Lavari, and received compensation (of Rs 1 crore 11 lakhs) for diversion of forest land for non- forest related activity.