New Delhi: The Centre on Monday admitted in the Lok Sabha the difficulties faced by people living in forest villages and said it had asked state governments to convert them into revenue villages to enable villagers get benefits of welfare schemes.

There are 4,526 forest villages in the country in which 22.06 lakh people live, majority of them being tribals, tribal affairs minister Jual Oram said during Question Hour.

Out of a total 22,06,011 population living in 4,526 forest villages across the country, 13,32,265 belong to Scheduled Tribes (ST), he said.

Admitting the difficulties faced by these people, the minister said state governments were told to convert the forest villages into revenue villages so that the people living there get government welfare benefits.

Oram said that 925 forest villages in Madhya Pradesh will be converted to revenue villages, in Maharashtra all forest villages, except for 73 villages in Nandurbar, are in the process of conversion into revenue villages, while 421 forest villages in Chhattisgarh have been converted into revenue villages.

The minister said, in West Bengal 86 forest villages were converted into revenue villages, while in Odisha, 22 forest villages and unsurveyed habitations were identified for conversion to revenue villages.

In Gujarat, out of 196 recorded forest settlement, 175 have been identified for conversion to revenue villages, while in Uttar Pradesh, out of the 12 recorded forest settlement, six have been converted to revenue villages, he said.