Pastoral Community in Gujarat's Banni Grasslands Demands Titles Recognising Community Forest Rights

Reported by

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

July 2, 2021

Location of Conflict

Banni

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Land Use

Grassland

(

Eco-Sensitive Zone

)

People Affected by Conflict

40000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

249700

ha

Starting Year

2015

State

Gujarat

Sector

Land Use

In 2015, each of the 47 villages under the jurisdiction of 16 gram panchayats administering Banni grasslands in Kutchch district was granted Community Forest Rights (CFR) under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The CFR extended over the entire area of the grasslands (2,500 square kilometres). While the claims were cleared by the government, the Maldhari community that lives on the grasslands never got titles formally recognising their traditional rights over the land. The forest and revenue departments could not come to an agreement over the grassland's status as either forest or revenue land as the grasslands have till date not been demarcated. When the Madharis called on the chief minister in 2017 requesting ownership titles, they were told that a committee comprising the chief minister and officials of the revenue and forest departments was formed, which would grant them land titles. Despite this, in early October 2018, the revenue department started a regular survey of the land in three of the panchayats under the Gujarat Land Revenue Code, 1879, which applies to revenue villages and not forest villages. This was opposed by the Maldhari community, which has used the Banni grasslands only as a pastureland and discouraged any farming or private land holding within it. The panchayats condemned the survey, saying that the government wanted to start the land resettlement process sidelining the task of clearing the community's CFR claims that were approved in 2015. In July 2019, the principal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the Gujarat government to complete the demarcation of Banni grasslands within four months and to submit a report to the tribunal, noting that the grassland has till date not been demarcated on the ground. Once the area is demarcated as forest and nonforest land, claimants of forest rights would not be labelled encroachers and evicted. The NGT bench directed the state to carry out the demarcation on a priority basis and to ensure that no nonforestry activity is carried out in the area. In November 2019, the grassland was demarcated by the district administration and forest officers. Along with the demarcation, a survey of the boundary in the area was carried out, completed and earmarked. The move will contribute to ascertaining protected and nonprotected areas in the grassland and help save the land from encroachment and nonforest activities. The rights of the Maldharis over the land, however, are yet to be defined.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Demand to demarcate land under the Forest Rights Act

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

    Section 3(1)(a) [Right to live on and hold forestland]; Section 6 [Gram sabha to determine the extent of community forest rights]

  2. Gujarat Land Revenue Code, 1879

    Section 95 [Conducting revenue survey to settle the land revenue]

  3. Indian Forests Act, 1927

    Section 3 [State government has the power to reserve forests]; Section 29 [State government can issue a notification to extend the protections of the Act to areas not reserved]

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Yes

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of the FRA, Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal, Principal Bench

Case Number

Original Application 366/2018

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest department, Revenue department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

N/A

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Community Forest Rights, Learning and Advocacy Group, Sahjeevan, Banni Breeders' Association

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Aditi Patil

Reviewed By

Aditi Patil

Updated By

Aditi Patil

Edited By

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Contribute Now