On 14th August, a meeting on Forest Rights Act (FRA) for the members belonging to the Gram Sabha of Hulical Town Panchayat took place at Coonoor. The Gram Sabha consists of members from Sengalpudur, Sengalcombei, Jogicombei, Kavalcombei and Puducombei, all of which are Kurumba settlements. They usually collect Honey, Shikakai (Acacia concinna), Kadukkai (Chebulic Myrobalan), Bamboo cane, Jamun fruit (Naval), Nutmeg, Black dammer (Dhupa) etc.
These villages previously had submitted claims for Individual Forest Rights (IFRs) and Community Forest Rights (CFRs) back in 2013, but their claims had been tabled for a long period due to reasons unknown. However, as the new District Administration in place is attentive to such matters, resubmission of claims was discussed at the meeting.
Personnel from the District Forest Department, Village officer and Panchayat officials were present at the meeting. Jyotsna (Programme Coordinator – Community Wellbeing), Chandran (Additional Coordinator) and Thirumurthy (Area coordinator) from Keystone were also present at the meeting.
Request on establishing an Eco-tourism at Pakasuran Mazhai under FRA was put forth by the Gram Sabha to the officials. The Forest Department suggested that with claims under process and yet to be sanctioned, Eco-Tourism under the Village Forest Committee (VFC) can be established right away. But, the communities are keen on obtaining an approval for tourism activities under the FRA and not the VFC. Under the FRA the community will be able to manage and keep a lid on the flow of tourism. A resolution in regard to this was passed at the meeting. Also, paperwork in relation to IFRs and CFRs will be submitted for review by the end of August.