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Activists express concern over Forest Rights Act dilutions

VISAKHAPATNAM, 29/04/2014: One of the community forests developed and maintained by the tribals in Gasaba reserve forest of Araku forest range in Dumbriguda mandal of Visakhapatnam district. The tribals are seeking community pattas under Forest Rights Act. Photo: K.R. Deepak   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Over 40 groups wrote to the Prime Minister and the Union Minister of State for Environment, on Tuesday, expressing concern over “consistent efforts of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to bring out resolutions and executive orders in violation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (or the Forest Rights Act (FRA))”.

In separate letters to the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, activists, academics and members from organisations working on environment, human rights, Adivasi rights, forest worker rights, and women’s rights objected to latest order issued by the Environment Ministry on October 28, 2014 which takes away rights of other traditional forest dwellers.

The letter says the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) is the nodal agency for the implementation of the FRA and has the mandate to issue any clarifications regarding the Act. The Tribal Affairs Ministry had clarified in October on guidelines for diversion of forest lands for non-forest purposes, “that no agency of the government has been vested with powers to exempt application of the act (meaning FRA) in portion or in full. It is further advised that any action or process in consistent with due process laid under the Act would not be legally tenable and is likely to be struck down by the courts of law.”

The letter said in keeping with the commitment towards inclusive and sustainable development and pro-people good governance, the NDA government will uphold the spirit and letter of the FRA.

The FRA provides the opportunities for inclusive governance by giving the forest dwelling communities their democratic right to own, access and take decisions regarding their forest lands and resources, the letter pointed out. All the orders, resolutions and letters (including the one referred above) by the MoEFCC which dilute, violate, provide exemptions or in other ways weaken the FRA need to be withdrawn with immediate effect, the letter demanded.

The Ministry’s order of October 28, 2014 violates the FRA in its interpretation of the Act which is meant to undo the historical injustice suffered by forest dwelling tribal and non tribal communities.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:17:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/activists-express-concern-over-forest-rights-act-dilutions/article6570088.ece

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