NAC unhappy over settlement of community forest right claims

Bhubaneswar: Even as Odisha claimed to have occupied top position in terms of settling individual claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the National Advisory Council (NAC) has expressed dissatisfaction over the settlement of community forest right claims in the state.
"Odisha has done well in the implementation of individual forest rights. But as far as the community forest rights are concerned, the state is not doing as well as Maharashtra, especially in the Gadchiroli district where large tracts of forest land have been given to the communities for management," NAC member N C Saxena said.
Saxena was here to attend the two-day workshop on Community Forest Resource Rights organised by Union Tribal Affairs Ministry in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Odisha's Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Minister L B Himirika, however, said the state has settled 3,38,198 individual rights out of a total of 5.45 lakh claims and 4,905 community rights claims till date.
"We have been taking all possible steps to settle more number of community claims. Odisha is not lagging behind other states in terms of settling community rights under FRA," Himirika said, adding the state will resolve these claims at the Sub-Divisional Level Committees and District Level Committees.
No community rights claim has been received from Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Jagatsingpur and Puri districts, the minister pointed out.
Though many states settled a good number of individual claims received, the pace of community forest resources right settlement is a major challenge, said Vibha Puri Das, the secretary of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
"Less than 5 per cent of total claims filed belongs to this (community) category," she pointed out.