Forest land allotment goes hi-tech

Forest land allotment goes hi-tech

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Gujarat, India: Gujarat State Tribal Development Department has used 3-D satellite imagery from ISRO’s Bhuvan programme to allot land titles in Vijaynagar and Khedbrahma in Sabarkantha district and Sagbara and Dediapada in Narmada district under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006. T L Patel, Joint Director, Tribal Development Department, said, “With satellite imagery, there would not be any doubt about the land settlements in these forest areas. We have the village-level maps to determine those who were cultivating the lands in these areas for the last 40 years.”

Patel said Gujarat has become the first Indian state to employ satellite imagery along with groundwork to determine the original forest dwellers in the state’s forests. “Gujarat comes third in the implementation of the Act. Earlier on three occasions, in 1972, 1982 and 1992, land titles were distributed. In 1992, 32,000 hectares of forestland were allotted and titles distributed to equal number of farmers in the state. Therefore, now while checking the claims, we are more careful in giving land titles as the issue of maintaining a forest cover is also essential. There cannot be anything better than the satellite imageries with ground work to determine the land settlements,” said Patel.

In the past, between 1994 and 97, there were surveys conducted to determine the original claimants of the forestland. Sixty-four thousand families were found in the survey, but only 32,000 were given titles. “By indulging in such falsifications, the state government is violating the provision of FRA -2006 Section 8-(H)”, said Usha Garasia, president of the Eklavya Sangathan, an NGO working for the tribal.

Source: Indian Express