Two tribal villages get 2,349 hectares

Maharashtra is the first to recognize their rights over forests

two villages in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra have become the first in the country to win community rights over forests under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. On August 15, Ramesh Bang, the state food and civil supplies minister, said the claims of Mendha Lekha and Marda villages over their village forests were accepted by the state government.

The village communities are yet to receive copies of the government order giving them ownership rights but they have started preparations to take over the management of the forests. Mendha Lekha would get management rights over 1,832 hectares (ha) and Marda would get rights over 517 ha of forestland.

Devaji Tofa, community leader of village Mendha Lekha, said the gram sabha has been managing the village