Historical injustice and “Bogus” claims: Large infrastructure, conservation and forest rights in India

This essay examines the role of India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act in the procedures that regulate transfer of forest land to large infrastructure projects. Specifically, it shows the gap between the legally mandated requirements and how these are implemented in project approval processes. This is illustrated through a case study of the coal mining approvals in the Hasdeo Arand forest region in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The essay also outlines the different actors who have influenced the discourses on forest rights of Adivasi and other forest dwelling communities and what they identify as factors that challenge the implementation of this law on the ground. It juxtaposes this analysis in the context of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of India on eviction of forest dwellers and examines whether that would bring in any structural change in the way the law is implemented.