<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In view of its directive in March asking states to halt settlement of tribal rights inside tiger reserves, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has sought detailed reports from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on the voluntary relocation and rehabilitation of tribals. The commission, senior officials said, wants to examine and verify on ground NTCA’s claims of ‘voluntary relocation.The reports were sought during a hearing NCST Secretary Raghav Chandra had held to examine NTCA’s March directive which said that pending formulation of guidelines to notify ‘critical wildlife habitats’, tiger bearing states should freeze settlement of tribal rights inside tiger reserves. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was to formulate the guidelines in 2007.Chandra had informed NTCA during the hearing that its order was in violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and should be kept in abeyance. Chandra also told NTCA that no tribal should be displaced till the guidelines are prepared.According to the minutes of the hearing, NTCA officials informed NCST that the compensation paid to tribals willing to move out of tiger reserves was being reworked with the concurrence of Ministry of Finance. NCST Secretary Raghav Chandra asked NTCA to consider raising the compensation to Rs 20 lakh per family from the existing Rs 10 lakh as the existing amount is insufficient. He said that CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) funds lying with the Centre could be used to settle tribals from the core or critical tiger habitats.As per law, tribals can either avail the cash compensation or they can be resettled and rehabilitated with the aid of the forest department.Chandra was also of the opinion that in case of relocation of tribal people from protected areas and tiger reserves, each tribal family should be provided land up to four hectares or area under occupation by tribals, whichever is less, adjoining the protected area, minutes of the hearing show. In case land of similar nature is not available, then double the area of occupation of eight hectares whichever is less should be provided for relocation and rehabilitation of tribals from protected areas and tiger reserves, the NCST secretary added.”The entire cost towards relocation or rehabilitation should be borne from CAMPA. This exercise of cash compensation should be carried out within a period of three years, failing which forest rights should be conferred immediately,” the minutes stated.The environment ministry had sought identification of critical wildlife habitats or inviolate forest areas when the Forest Rights Act (FRA) was passed, to maintain areas free of human interference. The FRA, meanwhile, mandates settling of the rights of forest dwelling communities living inside tiger reserves and even critical wildlife habitats. The relocation of tribals from such areas has to be done on a voluntary’ basis, only after settling their rights and taking their consent.WHAT FRA saysForest Rights Act (FRA) mandates relocation of tribals from tiger reserves and other critical wildlife habitats on a voluntary basis, after settling their rights and taking their consent.
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