Securing Land Rights for Tribals via Spatial

Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers have been living in the forests from time immemorial. Yet their rights over their lands and forests were never properly recognized and recorded during the forest settlement process, even after India’s independence.

This made them ‘encroachers’ in their homelands and deprived them of the rights and security of tenure over their lands and forests, which is why they have been living a life of extreme poverty and hunger amid areas rich in forests and other natural resources.

Solution and Implementation Plan

The project began by raising awareness among tribal communities about various provisions of the Act and the Rules, providing training to Forest Rights Committees (FRC) members for various tasks.

Despite all the efforts, nearly 70% of the total 17,000 claims of the Narmada district were rejected due to a lack of documentary evidence. The government decided to use historical Satellite Imagery of 2005 as documentary evidence to prevent such instances in the future.

Printed images from Google Earth were provided to the FRCs and they were asked to identify individual farms on the maps. This convinced FRCs of the role of satellite imagery in verifying claims.

However, the process of mapping was difficult and prone to errors, hence they used GPS technology for marking the boundaries of each plot on these maps. This data was
superimposed on Google Earth. They calculated the area and condition of each plot automatically in 2005. The process was adopted by more than 200 villages. To avoid questions on authenticity, they used imageries from National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad.

So far, with this method, they have prepared maps of about 19,000 land parcels belonging to about 12,000 claims from more than 200 villages in the Narmada district.

From 2022 onwards they are using a new mobile-based system for carrying out GPS surveys of pending claims in the remaining 13 tribal districts of Gujarat. This system uses ArcGIS mobile applications – Survey123 and Fieldmaps together for carrying out GPS surveys.

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