NGT UPHOLDS RIGHTS OF PASTORALISTS IN BANNI GRASSLAND
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) said the Maldharis (Pastoralists) will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them. This is done as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) also ordered that all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months.
The Maldhari community had filed a case against the rampant encroachment in the ecologically-sensitive grassland in May, 2018.
Significance of order
- Judgement is important for Maldhari community survival as thet are mostly patrolist.
- Judgement is beneficial for Banni Buffalo, who are asset to community and to the environment
- Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community in Gujarat, India.
- The literal meaning of Maldhari is keeper (dhari) of the animal stock (mal).
- Maldhari community breeds Banni Buffaloes, a species endemic to the region. The buffaloes are adaptive to Kutch’s hot weather conditions.
- Banni is the largest grassland of Asia situated near the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
- It is spread over 2,618 kilometres and accounts for almost 45% of the pastures in Gujarat.
Ecosystem and Vegetation:
- Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are side by side in Banni.
- Banni grasslands, traditionally, were managed following a system of rotational grazing.
- Banni is dominated by low-growing plants, forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt tolerant), as well as scattered tree cover and scrub.
- The area is rich in flora and fauna, with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
- In 1955, the court notified that the grassland will be a reserve forest (the most restricted forests classified according to Indian Forest Act 1927).
- In 2019, the tribunal ordered to demarcate the boundaries of the Banni grassland and restricted non-forest activities.