Implement FRA, do not harass forest dwellers: RTIM

Excelsior Correspondent

Srinagar, Dec 4: Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement (RTIM) today asked the Government to implement the Forest Rights Act (FRA-2006) and not to harass the forest dwellers residing in various areas for the last several decades.
In a statement issued here, it said that in connection with their awareness campaign on Forest Rights Act 2006, a delegation of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement visited Zilsidara Jabbad village in Chadoora.
“This is the remotest village in District Budgam. We met several traditional Forest Dwellers in the village, particularly Chopans (Kashmiri Shepherds) who have been living in the area for more than 150 years,” RTIM said.
These people, the RTIM said, were allocated forest land way back in the late 1940s by Govt under the Grow More Food Programme. “Now after 72 years, J&K Govt is asking them to surrender the same and Eviction Notices are being issued to them by the Forest Department.”
RTIM said that the Government claims to be implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA-2006) which gives them legal protection for claiming
Rights on Forest land already allotted many decades back.
“If the Govt is planning to Implement FRA 2006, then why to harass such poor people,” RTIM asked.
It accused the Government of harassing the forest dwellers. “Was Article 370 abrogated to harass these poor Forest Dwellers; Let the Forest Department clear the land encroached by Hoteliers and Orchardists in recent past rather than harassing these traditional Forest Dwellers,” it said.