Following up Arundhati Roy and Aditya Nigam articles mentioned article I came across this article Redressing 'historic injustice' through Forest Rights Act 2006: A Historical Institutional analysis of contemporary forest rights reform.The act was passed in December, 2006 and the rules have been finalised and issued in January, 2008. From the conclusion of the article:
"The Indian Forest Rights Act has begun to change the institutional ‘playing field’ in terms of undermining the historical basis for state enclosure of forest lands and
puts many aspects of the contemporary forest land administration on the wrong side of the law, therefore requiring reform.
The breakthrough of the Forest Rights Act to an extent implies increasing political
inclusion in democratic processes. However the political processes and compromises necessary for securing reform have inevitably narrowed and diluted the scope of the
reform, in relation to the breadth of the problem.
Firstly implementation of any reform involves effort and commitment to change established procedures and practices. This likely goes against the ‘path of least
resistance’ and so without dynamic leadership, consistent lobbying and substantial
resourcing implementation is inevitably a gradual process of change. Secondly, however, incumbent administrations are likely to have significant divergence of
interests from the interest groups favoured by reform, acutely so in the case of the FRA, and therefore may be actively hostile to full and proper implementation, at
least where discretionary opportunities to do so exist."
Here are a couple of news items about the implementation of the act which confirm some of the fears expressed in the article. From Endless Loop, an interview with documentary "Delayed Justice" maker Shriprakash:
"The purpose of the film was to document how the Act is being implemented. The Act is a radical one in Indian history and the film tackles how it is being implemented in all the regions of Andhra Pradesh (AP). “I chose AP because on the surface it had a pretty good track record,” says Shriprakash. Made in 2009, it is part of an ongoing research on the Act and produced by the University of East Anglia. “I thought AP is one of the few states where there is some governance but I found in the remote areas where I filmed, Marripalam for instance, things are the same,” he says. “If this Act cannot be properly implemented in a state like Andhra I wonder what is happening to it in the rest of the country,” he adds.............
In Marripalam village, which is six km from a road-head into the forest, the head of the FRC ( Forest Rights Committee) is confused about the number of claims from the area. Forest officials caught on hidden camera clearly voice their opinion against the Act and also add that the department is involved in large-scale timber smuggling. "
From a Kafila post:
"Mr. Avinash Kulkarni and Mr. Bharat Pawar, activists of long-standing repute, have been working relentlessly for the rights of the Adivasis of Gujarat, over the past 15 years. Based in Ahwa, Avinash and Bharat have been actively involved on issues pertaining to the empowerment and development of Adivasis, through the Dangi Lok Adhikar Samiti and the Dangi Mazdoor Union, in Dang district. Avinash and Bharat have played a significant role in the struggle for the Forest Rights Act and for people’s rights to use, manage and control forests and forest resources as part of the leadership of Adivasi Mahasabha Gujarat, both in the advocacy and struggle that brought about the Forests Rights Act and the monitoring of its implementation across the Adivasi areas of Gujarat. It is a well known fact that they have always worked for democratic and peaceful means of securing the rights and entitlements of the Adivasis and have stood by non-violent means of working for social change.
In the afternoon of 21st March, 2010, about 2 P.M Avinash was picked up by Dy. S. P. Shri Patil under the pretext of questioning and took him to an undisclosed location, without giving any information to his family members or colleagues as to where they were taking him or giving him the right of contacting his advocate. Bharat Pawar also was detained the same evening in a similar fashion by policemen from the DSP office of Ahwa, Dangs. This is a clear violation of Justice D. K. Basu Guideline of Supreme Court."