Natural Justice’s Arpitha Kodiveri and Sankar Pani attended a two day consultation on ‘Community Forest Rights under Forest Rights Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Biodiversity Conservation in Kachchh District.’ The workshop was organised by Sahjeevan, a Kachchh-based NGO, from 6-7 September, 2012. The consultation took place between members of pastoralist communities from the Banni and representatives from organisations working on the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA). As most communities are being denied various rights in forest areas, the workshop focused on the applicability and implementation of the FRA in Kachchh district with an emphasis on issues faced by pastoralist communities and on communities dependent on fishing and salt cultivation. The issues noted were the lack of implementation of the FRA provisions around grazing rights as well as evictions for industrial activities and the declaration of special economic zones.
The primary recommendations from the consultation were:
- To ensure implementation of the FRA through a widespread awareness campaign and the facilitation of claims by the district administration in collaboration with civil society organisations;
- The withdrawal of clearances granted for the diversion of forest land not in compliance with the FRA;
- Traditional rights in the protected areas should be strengthened and should be recognised under the FRA.