14 CFRR Claims Submitted to SDLC, Simdega: CFRR Titles Empower Communities towards Building Robust Forest Economy

Sandip Chowdhury, Goverance Specialist submitting CFRR titles to SDLC.

Community Forest Resource Rights (CFRR) is the legal acknowledgment of the rights of communities over forest resources. It grants recognition to the communities who have been dependent on forests for their livelihood for more than three generations, spanning a period of 75 years. 

Marking the culmination of a long and challenging journey, Sandip Chowdary, IoFE Governance Specialist, successfully submitted 14 Community Forest Resource Rights (CFRR) claims on behalf of the communities to the Sub-District Level Committee (SDLC) in Simdega, Jharkhand, on 14th June 2023. This significant milestone was made possible due to the unwavering dedication of our six IoFE field interns- Chandrakanta, Sunita, Asraf, Shiv, Vinod, and Sudama – alongside the resilient communities who persevered through scorching summer conditions. Encouragingly, two more claims are currently in progress. Furthermore, the CFRR claim process is underway for over 50 additional villages in Simdega, including 21 claims currently undergoing joint verification in the Jaldega block. 

In theory, the process of receiving a CFRR title simply involves filing a claim at three levels: block, sub-divisional, and district. However, the practical execution of this process has been hindered by a lack of uniform comprehension of the Forest Rights Act and limited support from the forest department. Consequently, the process has taken longer than anticipated, surpassing the expected timeframe. 

Our journey for CFR filling in Simdega began in January with the collection of necessary documents and the formation of the Forest Right Committee. Owing to a dedicated team on the field, by March 2023, we had successfully submitted 14 claims at the block level. However, due to the confusion surrounding certain terms used in the Forest Rights Act, the forest department rejected these claims with written remarks outlining their objections. 

Determined to overcome these hurdles, we sought guidance from experts well-versed in the Forest Rights Act and engaged in consultations with higher officials. With their support, we successfully refuted the objections raised by the forest department Simdega during the joint verification stage. In accordance with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, the Gram Sabhas played a crucial role in this process. They passed appropriate resolutions in their second meeting held in June, effectively nullifying the objections. Additionally, we established seven Community Forest Management committees to further strengthen our efforts. 

As a result of our collective endeavours, we were able to resubmit the 14 claims to the Sub-District Level Committee (SDLC). This journey has been an invaluable learning experience, and we have now established well-defined systems and processes. With this solid foundation in place, the CFRR filing process will continue to make significant progress and achieve even greater success moving forward to pave the way for value creation at the local level, not hundreds of miles away from the forests.  

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