April 13, 2023
Despite its relatively high human development indicators, Tamil Nadu has blocked some of its most vulnerable from earning a living.
In our monthly policy brief, @jeffjoseff looks at how poor implementation of the Forest Rights Act affects tribal livelihoods.
Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) was supposed to decriminalise the livelihoods of tribals and undo historical injustices.
Land titles issued under the Act were key to accessing social benefits. But misinterpretation of FRA often acts as an obstacle on the ground.
Since the land titles were issued, tribals in Tamil Nadu aspiring to pursue farming have approached different departments but failed to avail benefits extended to farmers such as free electricity for agriculture.
Tribals who do manage to get FRA land titles are harassed by forest officials who stop them from digging borewells, deny electricity connections, housing benefits and even basic necessities like roads to their hamlets, saying the titles don’t give them ownership.
Absence of measures to ensure the convergence of state schemes with FRA land titles means that the titles are of little use to those issued. Tamil Nadu is one of the worst when it comes to FRA implementation.
The issue goes back to 2008 when the Madras High Court ordered the state not to issue pattas under the Act.
While similar restrictive orders in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha were challenged and vacated in 2009, Tamil Nadu treated the order as a stay on FRA itself.
In 2015 Tamil Nadu finally got the order vacated from the Supreme Court. But the state began issuing FRA titles only in 2018.
Five years later, it continues to perform poorly.
Currently, Tamil Nadu is the fifth-worst among 20 major states in terms of the number of individual titles granted with only 8,144 out of 33,775 applications being approved.
No new individual FRA titles have been issued by Tamil Nadu since November 2020.
The issue has been covered in detail in our March 2023 Natural Resource Policy Brief.
We’ll also be hosting our monthly 'Interaction with our Policy Brief Writer' at 4 pm today, where @jeffjoseff will talk about his findings.
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