Govt starts rolling out Forest Rights Act 2006 in J&K after public outcry

Srinagar, Dec 28 (KNS): After huge public outcry over issuance of eviction notices to tribal population and traditional forest dwellers and axing of apple trees by forest department officials, the J&K Government on Monday started rolling out the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) in Jammu & Kashmir.
According to Kashmir News Service (KNS), a training schedule has been prepared by the Forest Department wherein training will be imparted to Govt officers for implementing the Forest Rights Act in J&K in the coming months.
"Government has prepared a roster for a training programme on the Forest Rights Act so that this law could be implemented in J&K at different levels. Under the level-1, the official members of District Level Committees (DLCs) will be provided the training which include Deputy Commissioners, Divisional Forest Officers (at District hqr's), District Panchayat Officers (DPO) – other Senior officers of Forest, Revenue, Rural Development and Tribal Affairs Department(s)", an official told KNS.
The training session will be for two and an half hour and will start from December 29th, the official added.
He further added that the Forest Department would be imparting the training to these officers.
"Under the level-2 training programme, the Sub-Divisional Forest Committee officials like SDM’s, Range Officers, BDO’s will be imparted 3 ½ hrs online training on Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) on 30th and 31st December at Jammu and Srinagar respectively. For frontline functionaries of the Government like Naib Tehsildars & Patwaries, Block Foresters & Forest Guards one day offline training would be provided between January 1st to 8th", he said.
It is pertinent to mention that activists of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement led by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat along with affected tribal population and traditional forest dwellers of villages in Branwar Zilsidara, Batwodder , Kanidajan in central Kashmir's Budgam held protest demonstrations during last several weeks over issuance of eviction notices, axing of fruit trees and non-implementation of Forest Rights Act in J&K. Several national and international media organizations gave coverage to this public outcry which prompted the Govt to start rolling out Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Jammu & Kashmir which otherwise was not being implemented on ground inspite of being extended to UT of J&K on October 31st 2019 after abrogation of article 370.
Welcoming the decision of the Govt to implement the Forest Rights Act, Chairman RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat who has been on the forefront of ensuring FRA implementation in J&K has demanded that Institute of Management Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPARD), Tribal Affairs Department J&K Govt and national level NGO’s who have been conducting training courses on FRA in other states be also involved in training Govt officials.
“Panchayat members, village forest rights committees and local NGOs also need to be trained on FRA implementation and Govt must seriously think over it and organize training of trainers (ToT) workshops at district level to create more resource persons locally on FRA. There is a great role of civil society groups in it and they need to be taken on board” said Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat while talking to KNS.
Pertinently a video conference was held recently on FRA implementation by top Govt functionaries. The virtual meeting was addressed by the Principal Secretary, Home/Revenue Department Shaleen Kabra, Commissioner Secretary Forest, Ecology & Environment Department, Sarita Chauhan, Secretary Tribal Affairs Department, Rehana Batul and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr. Mohit Gera. The action plan/roadmap for implementation of FRA was shared and discussed with the Deputy Commissioners. (KNS) 

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