CPI(M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat, has addressed a letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern over the delay in notification of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill 2006. The copy of the letter is being released for publication.
September 11, 2007
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Government of India
Dear Shri Manmohan Singhji,
This is to draw your urgent attention to the delay in notification of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights ) Bill 2006. The Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament in December 2006. The Committee for Drafting Rules was formed in March 2007 and submitted the Draft Rules in May 2007. These were put up on the website for public comment on June 19th, 2007. The last date decided by the Ministry was July 31, 2007. It was expected that the Rules would be finalized and the Act notified. However more than 6 weeks later this has not been done.
The announcement of the Act without its notification has led to a serious situation for tribals in many areas. Forest officials who have been responsible for denial of tribal rights have taken advantage of the delay between the Act and its notification to evict tribals from many areas. Land cultivated by tribals for decades is being dug up for plantations by the forest department in some states in an obvious attempt to preempt the recognition of the tribal rights on that land. At the same time there are reports of connivance between land mafia and officials to take illegal possession of land. This is a most untenable situation.
The delay is inexplicable. I request you to urgently intervene on this issue so as to ensure that an important achievement of the UPA Government is not weakened or even subverted by the non-notification of the Act.