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IFR Review: States do dubious paperwork, cite baseless reasons for refusing forest rights to tribals

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation


Source: DTE

 Context: Individual Forest Rights (IFR), without which forest dwellers stand to be evicted from their native habitations, have been awarded to very few applicants across the country.



  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA), recognizes the rights of the forest-dwelling communities to forest resources.
  • The Act encompasses –
    • Individual rights: Rights of Self-cultivation and Habitation
    • Community Rights: Grazing, Fishing and access to Water bodies in forests, access to biodiversity, etc.
  • It also provides rights to the allocation of forest land for developmental purposes to fulfil the basic infrastructural needs of the community.
  • In conjunction with the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Settlement Act 2013, FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.
  • The Gram Sabha is a highly empowered body under the Act, enabling the tribal population to have a decisive say in the determination of local policies and schemes impacting them.


The procedure for granting the IFR:

  • Gram Sabha → sub-divisional-level committee (SDLC) → district-level committee (DLC)
  • The Forest Rights Committee (FRC) is elected from Gram Sabhas in order to assist a Gram Sabha in the process of vesting the rights/reviewing the decision of the above committees.
  • As per the FRA, IFR claims cannot be rejected because of a lack of documents.



  • High rate of IFR claim rejection. According to the MoTA, almost half the IFR applications that were previously rejected and sent for review were rejected once again.
  • In 2019, the SC directed the states to evict (1,191,273 tribals across 20 states) those FRA claimants whose IFR claims were rejected.


The SC (in 2019), while staying its eviction order asked states:

  • To supply information on the number of rejections,
  • Procedure followed,
  • Reasons for rejection and
  • If the tribals had been given the chance to produce evidence before the rejection of claims.


Best practice (MP Govt.’s Van Mitra Portal): To simplify the process, an online portal called MP Van Mitra would allow the claimants whose claims had been rejected to re-apply for review.


Inta Links:

ST commission holds its ground on the impact of new Forest (Conservation) Rules on Forest Rights Act