The context of the Forest right Act (FRA) legislation in India lies in the history of denial of rights of traditional forest dwelling communities during the colonial period as well as the post-independence era. During the pre British era the forests were under the rule of the kings. The locals were allowed to inhabit, cultivate, graze cattle, and earn their livelihoods through forest resources without any restrictions[1]. However, with the advent of the British, these people started being looked upon as ‘encroachers’ on their own land. By the 19th century, imperial needs had started dictating British interests in Indian forests and the British started taking control over vast tracts of forest land[2]. It was during this period that centralized forest administration had started taking roots in India.

[1] Guha, Ramchandra. 1983. Forestry in British and Post-British India: A Historical Analysis. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 18, No. 44, pp. 1882-1896.

[2] Gadgil, M, Guha,R. 1992. This Fissured Land : An Ecological History of India. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

Vedprakash Singh

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