The political agenda of implementing Forest Rights Act 2006: evidences from Indian Sundarban
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The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA) is a landmark statutory law which aims to grant ownership rights and forest management powers to the marginalized forest-dependent communities in India. Our study, conducted in Sundarban Biosphere Reserve (SBR) region of West Bengal, reveals that at particular locations where the act suffers from implementation deficits or lack of coverage, it is imperative to investigate the role of local politics in facilitating or impeding access to forest rights. The study identifies the political drivers which influence the (non) implementation of the act in the SBR. It argues that despite being a rights-based law, the implementation of FRA is deeply implicated within vested political interests at specific geographical locations. The study concludes that a critique of the political economy of forest conservation is inadequate to explain the limitations of FRA implementation.
KeywordsFRA Conservation Forest workers Forest department Politics Sundarban
A preliminary version of this manuscript was presented at the national seminar on ‘Governance, Resource and Livelihoods of Adivasis in India: Implementation of PESA and FRA’, organized by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), Hyderabad, in November 2016. The authors extend their deepest gratitude to Prof. Ajit Menon for his detailed and insightful comments in revising the manuscript. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful suggestions and thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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