This article by @kanchikohli looks at the ‘settlement’ of forest rights in India. It looks at whether the policies being advocated by the government in the name of forest rights are to pave the way to acquire more land or to recognize rights.
Was the government seriously interested in recognising rights and strengthening community-based forest governance, or was this meant to settle the record of rights so that the forest diversion processes would be less contested?
The process of recording of rights is not a simple one and has several practical complications. Discussions and mapping of community forest resources and rights are far more complex processes, which might require reconciliation of overlapping claims and inter-Gram Sabha as well as inter-departmental coordination.
But a deeper question pertains to the shrouded intent that drives the current government’s current FRA mission. Is the government merely trying to gain credible points by backing forest rights? Or is there a need to contextualise this within the larger issues of forest diversion? Does “campaign mode”, actually aid “settling” forest claims, and what does it mean for areas where people are living over proposed mines or collecting forest produce where an industrial railway line has been demarcated? Either way, are rights holders and claimants prepared for what lies ahead?