Budgam March 18: A consultation workshop on Forest Rights Act (FRA) was organised by Action Aid India on Saturday in Chadoora Budgam. The meeting was attended by senior officers from Tribal Affairs Department, Forest & Revenue Departments. Members of village Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) and prominent citizens from Doodh Ganga forest range in Budgam also participated in the meeting.
While speaking during the consultation workshop Special Secretary Tribal Affairs Department Mohammad Haroon Malik said that people had rights like the Forest Rights Act in past also when Sir Walter Lawrence did land settlement in J&K around 1890, but after enactment of FRA these rights have been properly identified and people have not only individual and community forest rights but they have rights over the local non forest timber produce (NTFP) as well. He said that Govt of India has launched a scheme called Van Dhan Yojna wherein J&K Tribal Affairs Department has made a MoU with the Cooperatives Department for setting up Self Help Groups (SHGs) for Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs).
These SHGs can collect the minor forest produce at their own level and process the same. The Tribal Affairs Department will help in market linkages as well so that they get better returns from the same of these products” said Mohamad Haroon Malik
Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Chadoora P N Hamid who is also the Chairperson of Sub Division Level Committee under Forest Rights Act in Chadoora Budgam in his address said that tribals and other traditional forest dwellers must focus on the education of their children. He said that under FRA several community forest rights have been already given to people in Doodh Ganga forest range especially and the administration was working to remain more focussed on this in future. SDM Chadoora said that he will be happy to hold more such workshops in future. Range Officer Doodh Ganga Range Tariq Nazir spoke about FRA in detail and the rights which people are entitled . He said that subsidized timer was being provided to forest dwellers and they were working to make sure Individual and Community rights are given to people.
Chairman RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar who also spoke during the workshop appreciated the role of Tribal Affairs Department , Forest Department and SDM Chadoora for their support and cooperation on FRA implementation. He thanked Action Aid India and Khyber Girls School Chadoora for the event. Social activists Mushtaq Ahmad, Dr Rouf Malik, Ajaz Ahmad, Shahnawaz Sultan, Syed Farhat, Basharat Chopan, Sameer Chopan also attended the meeting.