Srinagar: After a huge public outcry over the issuance of eviction notices to tribal population and traditional forest dwellers and the axing of apple trees by Forest Department officials, the government has started rolling out the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
A training schedule has been prepared by the Forest department wherein training will be imparted to government officers particularly Deputy Commissioners, Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) and Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) and other officers for implementing the Forest Rights Act in J&K.
The government has prepared a roster for a training programme on the Forest Rights Act so that the law could be implemented in J&K at different levels.
Under Level 1, the official members of District Level Committees (DLCs) will be provided with the training. The members will include Deputy Commissioners, Divisional Forest Officers (at District headquarters), District Panchayat Officers (DPOs) and other senior officers of Forest, Revenue, Rural Development and Tribal Affairs Department(s).
According to a handout prepared by the Forest Department, the online training will be of 2 ½ hours duration. The first online training session will start on Tuesday, December 29. The Forest Department would be imparting the training to these officers.
Under the Level 2 training programme, the Sub-Divisional Forest Committee officials like SDMs, Range Officers, BDOs will be imparted 3 ½ hours of online training on Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) on December 30 and 31 at Jammu and Srinagar respectively.
For frontline functionaries of the government like Naib Tehsildars, Patwaries, Block Foresters and Forest Guards, one-day offline training would be provided between January 1 to 8.
Pertinent to mention that activists of Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement along with affected tribal population and traditional forest dwellers of Budgam held some protest demonstrations over the issuance of eviction notices, axing of fruit trees and non-implementation of Forest Rights Act in J&K. Protest demonstration was held outside DC office Budgam and DFO office Pir Panjal Division as well.
Several national and international media gave coverage to this public outcry which prompted the government to start rolling out Forest Rights Act (FRA) in Jammu and Kashmir which otherwise was not being implemented on the ground despite being extended to the Union Territory of J&K on October 31, 2019, after the abrogation of Article 370.
While talking to KNO, Chairman RTI Movement, Raja Muzaffar Bhat, has demanded that J&K Institute of Management Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPARD), Tribal Affairs Department of J&K and national level NGOs who have been conducting training courses on FRA in other states be also involved in training government officials. He said the RTI Movement will also come out with a training manual on FRA soon in the shape of a booklet.
“Panchayat members, village forest rights committees and local NGOs also need to be trained on FRA implementation and government must seriously think over it and organize training of trainers (ToT) workshops at the district level to create more resource persons locally on FRA. There is a great role of civil society groups in it and they need to be taken on board,” said Raja Muzaffar Bhat.
Pertinently, a video conference was held recently on FRA implementation by top government functionaries. The virtual meeting was addressed by the Principal Secretary for Home/Revenue Department, Shaleen Kabra; Commissioner Secretary Forest, Ecology & Environment Department, Sarita Chauhan; Secretary Tribal Affairs Department, Rehana Batul; and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr Mohit Gera. The action plan/roadmap for the implementation of FRA was shared and discussed with the Deputy Commissioners. (KNO)