Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar of Jammu presided over a meeting of deputy commissioners and officers from the Forest Department and BSNL on 11 July to discuss the status of pending cases involving the transfer of land for 4G saturation (mobile towers) and the implementation of the Schedule Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act.
Land transfer cases involving the installation of 4G towers were discussed at length by the Division Commissioner, and the Deputy Commissioners reported on the total number of locations/sites, the number of cases in which land was allocated to BSNL, and the number of pending cases in their districts. It was revealed that district administrations had allocated land in the vast majority of instances, with the remaining cases still being processed.
The Division Commissioner discovered discrepancies in the information being sent around and ordered BSNL officials to assemble the information while consulting with district officials. The Deputy Commissioners were tasked with convening a conference of all relevant officials to discuss how they might speed up the tower installation processes.
The Div Com also requested that all forest clearing matters be completed by CCF. The Div Com sought information on the current standing of claims filed in response to the Schedule Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act while assessing case disposal.
Importantly, the Act recognises the right to forest land for habitation, self-cultivation, and subsistence of Scheduled Tribes people living in the woods along with other traditional occupants. For the purpose of verifying instances and settling claims, Forest Rights Committees (FRC) have been established at the district level in all the districts, at the Gramme Panchayat Level.