An online training programme on “The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006” was organized for the Forest Officers of Jammu and Kashmir to prepare them for implementation of Forest Rights Act in all areas of the Union Territory.The programme was addressed by Sarita Chauhan, Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment, Rehana Batul, Secretary Tribal Affairs, J&K and Dr. Mohit Gera, IFS, PCCF and HoFF, J&K. Chauhan spoke in detail on Plan of Action and road map for implementation of Forest Rights Act in J&K. She elaborately explained the procedures to be followed in time bound manner as per the Forest Rights Act/Rules at the level of Gram Sabha, Sub Divisional level and District level Committees to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land among the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers.She informed the gathering about the preparations being done for creation of awareness and trainings by experts to be held for all concerned at the level of Gram Sabha, Forest Right Committees, Sub Divisional and District level Committees. She emphasized the need to work with patience, passion and preparation for successful implementation of the Act. She directed the officers to ensure proper implementation of FRA with clear understanding of all its provisions.Rehana Batul spoke about the procedures for implementation of FRA and role of different Committees including District, Sub Divisional level and Forest Rights Committees at the level of Gram Sabha. She highlighted the key role assigned to the Gram Sabha for initiating the process of determining the nature and extent of forest rights as well as receiving and hearing the claims and passing resolutions and forwarding them to Sub Divisional level Committee. The role of Gram Sabha in protection of Wildlife, Forest and Biodiversity was also highlighted.
Dr. Mohit Gera highlighted the crucial role of Forest Department in implementation of FRA by providing records and maps in the verification process. He apprised the field officers in detail about claim mechanism and role of frontline forest staff in its correct and expeditious implementation. He also discussed typology of kinds of rights, particularly right to hold and live in forest land, community rights and right to ownership, access to collect, use and disposal of minor forest produce. The role of forest officers in convergence of Government schemes for welfare of forest dwellers was also highlighted wherein forest department shall support Gram Sabha to prepare and execute its own conservation and management plan. He concluded by saying that the spirit of the Forest Rights Act is to maintain ecological balance while ensuring livelihoods and food security to scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.Pertinently, the Government has already constituted State level, District level and Sub-Divisional level Committees comprising official members while these will be completed with the nomination of non official members after completion of District Development Council elections.The Forest Department has been preparing ground for implementation of the Act by way of conducting online internal trainings of forest officers on laws made applicable after the reorganization of J&K, as all these have a bearing on the action in the field.The programme began with welcome address by Sarvesh Rai, APCCF while Irfan Ali Shah, Conservator of Forests, Working Plan, Research and Trainings J&K presented with the Vote of Thanks.The Training programme was attended by around 250 Forest Officers belonging to Forest Department, Wildlife Protection Department and Social Forestry Department from 145 locations across Jammu and Kashmir. The officers up to level of DFO and Range Officers participated through online platform.