• The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months.
  • The court also said the Maldharis (Pastoralists) will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.

National Green Tribunal

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
  • Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal). 

Important points:

  • 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.
  • Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are mixed side by side in Banni.
  • Vegetation in Banni is sparse and highly dependent on rainfall.
  • 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.
  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India and a possible reintroduction site for the species.


  • Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community inhabiting Banni.
  • Originally nomads, they came to be known as Maldharis after settling in Junagarh (mainly Gir Forest).
  • The literal meaning of Maldhari is keeper (dhari) of the animal stock (mal).
  • The livestock include sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, and camels.
  • The Gir Forest National Park is home to around 8,400 Maldharis.

Provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006:

  • Under the provisions of the Act, forest dwellers cannot be displaced unless the rights settlement process has been completed.
  • Moreover, the Act has a special provision for setting up ‘Critical Wildlife Habitats (CWH)’, for the conservation of the species.
  • It strengthens the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the FDST (Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes) and OTFD (Other Traditional Forest Dwellers).

The Act identifies four types of rights:

  • It gives FDST and OTFD the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
  • The rights of the dwellers extend to extracting Minor Forest Produce grazing areas etc.
  • To rehabilitate in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
  • It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting.



About ChinmayaIAS Academy - Current Affairs

Check Also


The country has 18 percent of the world’s population, but only 4 percent of its …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free Updates to Crack the Exam!
Subscribe to our Newsletter for free daily updates