This paper assesses the extent to which the Forest Rights Act 2006, the most significant institutional reform of rights in forested landscapes since Independence, is being implemented across West Bengal, and whether it is contributing to the alleviation of the chronic and acute poverty prevalent in these areas of the state. The passing of the Act appeared to presage a fundamental reversal of a major 'historical injustice' in which the composition of the colonial forest estate deprived rural people of their customary rights. We assess the extent to which an apparently pro-poor de jure reform is actually achieved de facto on the ground, particularly in relation to the entrenched power of the status quo forestry institutions and related commercial interests. This paper presents findings from field research conducted throughout 2008 to 2009 across 9 villages in the South West and the North of the state. Ongoing revisits have been conducted in the Northern villages, but not in the South West as violent political conflict has engulfed the region and prohibited it.
Ajit Banerjee; Ghosh, S.; Springate-Baginski, O. Obstructed Access to Forest Justice in West Bengal State Violations in the Mis-Implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006. (2010) 36 pp.