In a major development, 38 unsurveyed forest villages in Odisha’s Ganjam district have finally been recognized as income villages under the Forest Rights Act, providing essential government welfare schemes and development benefits to more than 6,000 villagers who previously were deprived of such comforts.
These villages, which were identified as ‘Zero’ villages in census reports, required permission from the forest department for any small development activity.
The Ganjam District Magistrate issued a notification on 13 April 2023, following approval by the Board of Revenue, Odisha, officially making these towns revenue towns.
The villages are located in Sorada and Polasara tahsils, Dharakote tahsil and Kodala tahsil in Ganjam district. The process of turning these forest villages into income villages began in 2017 and finally came to fruition after more than half a decade.
Villages included in Polasara block
- Nirasa Palli
Villages in Beguniapada block
Surada block villages:
villages in Dharakote block
Odisha’s Forest Villages Turn Revenue
Parikshit Dash, the District Welfare Officer, played a crucial role in removing government obstacles and ensuring compliance with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs guidelines, with the cooperation of all departments involved. He took the first step towards recognizing the individual and community forest rights of these 38 unsurveyed forest villages.
Newly designated income villages will now have easier access to funds for various rural development schemes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and crop planning and diversification. Villagers can easily obtain caste, residential, and income certificates against their individual land titles.
The Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006 provides a legal framework to convert all forest villages or unsurveyed villages on forest land to income villages. The recognition of forest villages as income habitats assumes great importance, as only 52 forest villages, including these 38 from Ganjam, have been integrated in the last 16 years of FRA implementation.
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