As per section 3(1)(h) of Forest Rights Act (FRA), the Gramsabha of the forest villages can file claims for their conversion into revenue villages. Forest villages were established in the preIndependence era by the forest department as colonies of laborers for forestry projects. These villages have not been recognized in revenue records and their residents are deprived of benefits of the welfare schemes routed through the revenue department.
Malsadra village is a forest village with a small population of 9 households under the Phulbani block of Kandhamal district. Gram Sabha members of Malsadra village have filed claims for conversion into revenue villages as well as for their community forest rights under the FRA in July 2015. The claims have been submitted to the SubDivision Level Committee for the decision.
However, even before the claims could be decided and titles of rights could be distributed, the forest department cut about 30 big trees of Sal and Teak in March 2016. The previous year, another 90100 trees were felled by the department. The forest department says tree falling is part of the process prescribed in the working plan.
The village residents, however, have been protesting against the tree felling. They claim the forest department's working plan would no longer be applicable on their community forest as their claims under the FRA are pending.
Gramsabha of Malsadra village have filed a petition under Sec (7) of FRA and submitted to Chief Secretary Odisha demanding a ban on tree felling from their CFR area and on the interference by the forest department for any kind of working plan activity till their FRA claims are pending.
After several instances of protests by the Gram Sabha, the forest department has taken out all the trees from the village. The claim of conversion of forest village into revenue village is pending with the District Level Committee formed under the FRA.
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Private and Common
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Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Forest Rights Act of 2006
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Non-implementation violation of the FRA
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