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Nine states asked to “immediately” implement Forest Act

New Delhi:  Taking a serious view of some states not implementing the Forest Rights Act, the Centre has directed Bihar, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand to expeditiously implement it.

Tribal affairs secretary Arun Jha has written to the chief secretaries of the nine states on June 10, asking them to enforce the provisions of the law “immediately”.

“Chief secretaries of the nine states have been directed to expedite the implementation of the Act immediately. The implementation involves recognizing the rights of scheduled tribes living in the forests for generations,” said a senior Tribal Affairs Ministry official.

The Ministry has also asked the states to set up special cells to monitor the implementation along with setting targets and timelines for the same.

The move comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi directing the Ministry to implement the Act in a “campaign mode” and give land rights to tribals over the next couple of months.

According to sources in the Ministry, the Prime Minister had voiced unhappiness over the tardy implementation of the law at a review meeting held in April.

The Act was passed by the Congress-led UPA government and was aimed at ensuring that forest-dwellers, including Scheduled Tribes, got their rights over forest land and non-timber forest produce.

Around 3.9 million individual and community claims for forest land have been filed, but only 1.6 million land titles issued till February end, said the official.

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