This recent paper examines Forest Rights Act 2006 to analyse whether its detailed provisions are likely to fulfil its ambitious mandate. It discusses the complementary institutional reform required for strengthening the law’s provisions & the limited attention this has so far received.
Institutions relating to forest management in India have a critical impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of millions who live in forested landscapes and have had their rights deprived through state appropriation of forest land. India's Forest Rights Act 2006 is undoubtedly a landmark legislation providing the legal framework for major pro-poor institutional reform in the governance of the country's forests. This paper examines the contents of the law to analyse whether its detailed provisions, the outcome of intense contestation between different socio-political forces, are likely to fulfil its ambitious mandate. The procedural details outlined in the Rules are assessed for their adequacy for the recognition of different rights and the extent to which legitimate claimants may be excluded. The paper also discusses some of the unique provisions of the law and the early patterns of their implementation evident in different states. Finally, the paper discusses the complementary institutional reform required for strengthening the law's provisions and the limited attention this has so far received.