Chennai: Forest Right claims of 10,656 tribals and other forest dwellers have been wrongly rejected, found an RTI filed by News 18. Replying to the RTI, the ministry of tribal affairs stated that the Tamil Nadu government has accepted that due process was not followed.
“10,656 Forest Rights Act (FRA) claims have been rejected at different levels in the state. However, four individual claims have been rejected at district level. Chief Secretary has conducted review meetings with all concerned district collectors through video conference. Awareness creation programmes were conducted for stake holders. In rejected cases, the due procedure was not followed, hence, review process is under progress through providing opportunity of appeal to the claimants,” Tribal Affairs Ministry said in reply to the RTI.
As per the FRA Act, if a claim is rejected, claimant needs to be told the exact reason in a written format and the EK Palaniswami government had not done this, the RTI found.
In February this year, the Supreme Court directed the eviction of lakhs of Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers after their claims for Forest Land Rights were rejected under FRA, 2006. A month later, the apex court stayed its order on eviction of tribals and directed the state government to review all the rejected claims.
The apex court gave four months’ time to the state government to file affidavits on allegations that the claims were being rejected at a high rate.