Odisha leads in implementing Forest Rights Act: Pradeep Jena

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Pradeep Jena
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Odisha is one of the country’s leading states in implementing the Forest Rights Act, Development Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary of the Odisha Government, Pradeep Jena, said on Thursday.

At the opening session of the national consultation on the Potential of Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the context of Tribal Development: Implementation Gaps and Way Forward, Jena said the FRA has special relevance to Odisha, where as many as 62 planned tribes live , which make up over 22.8 percent of the population.

More than 4.57 lakh (until April 2022) of individual forest rights claims have been approved in Odisha. And some 3.51 lakh titleholders have been covered by various government schemes and programs, said Ranjana Chopra, secretary of ST&SC’s development department.

In his keynote speech at the two-day consultation program, former Planning Commissioner NC Saxena spoke about the importance of FRA in the context of tribal development. The law, if implemented in true spirit, will make a major contribution to livelihood security and poverty alleviation, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

On that occasion, Secretary of the Ministry of Tribal Development Anil Kumar Jha said that the Government of India has given high priority to the implementation of the law and accordingly the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has issued several guidelines, clarifications and letters to the States to strengthen the implementation of the Law.

Presenting the Odisha experience on the status of FRA implementation, Guha Poonam Tapas Kumar, Director of the Department, said while the FRA application approval rate is 73 percent, there are records for 2.59 million titles issued to forest rights holders have been corrected .

In addition, 160 forest rights cells have been formed at tehsil, sub-Collector’s Office and district levels in tribal sub-plan areas where tribal people make up more than 50 percent of their total population to ensure the effective implementation of FRA.

The inaugural session, organized by the Development Department of ST&SC in cooperation with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, was attended by NITI AAyog Advisor Muni Raju, UNDP India Assistant Resident Representative Denny Curry and Advisor and Director of SCSTRTI AB Ota.