The government is committed to give land titles to all legitimate forest dwellers as they are a part of the forest development strategy, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday. He was addressing a press conference on the concluding day of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP 14) to the United Nations Convention on Desertification (UNCCD) here.
Javadekar said his government's stand is clear on the rights of the forest dwellers, a matter which is pending before the Supreme Court. "The government believes and is committed to give land titles to all legitimate forest dwellers. In the strategy for forest development, tribals and dwellers are a part of it as they live and protect the forest. We have allotted in last five years millions of land titles," the minister said.
On February 13, the Supreme Court had ordered eviction of more than 11.8 lakh tribal families and traditional forest dwellers from forestlands in 16 states. The order was condemned by conservationists and forests dwellers' movements.
After a nationwide protest, the government approached the court asking it to stay its eviction order. "When the first decision of the Supreme Court came, we immediately filed the affidavit in favour of forest rights and that decision was stayed by the court itself," Javadekar said.
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