Court ruling on forest rights cheers Van Gujjars

Court ruling on forest rights cheers Van Gujjars the forest department of Uttarakhand has started ascertaining the population of Van Gujjars in the Rajaji National Park. They started the exercise on July 18, 2007, after the four-week period given to the Van Gujjars for filing their representations to the forest department expired. The officials are now trying to wrap up the exercise in the next four months.

The move, cited as a solution to the long-standing issue of settlement of Van Gujjars, is the result of an order of the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital. On June 20, the court upheld a petition by Van Gujjars in terms of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and directed the state forest department to "include the names of the left out Ban Gujjars in the list prepared for rehabilitation of the Ban Gujjars residing in the Rajaji National Park, Dehradun'.

The Ban Gujjar Kalyan Samiti, a committee representing the Van Gujjars, filed a petition in 2005 after they were served with an eviction notice by the then director of the national park (see