March 14, 2013
Vivek Gupta raises question to MoEF regarding rights of the forest dwellers
Excerpts of the Speech of Trinamool MP in RS Vivek Gupta raising question to MoEF regarding rights of the forest dwellers
Excerpts of his Speech:
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has applied different principles with regard to the democratic rights conferred upon forest dwellers in granting consent to diversion of forest land. Various development projects that need forest clearance, initiated by the West Bengal Government, are pending as they await consent from the concerned Gram Sabhas, as mandated by the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. At the same time, the Ministry in a recent affidavit to the Supreme Court stated that consent of Gram Sabha for diversion of forest land is required only in cases where quality of life of tribals would be affected. The affidavit clearly shows the Ministry’s approach and it has diluted its case against giant mining projects, current and future ones. The affidavit violates the ideology of empowering the forest dwellers as statutory authorities to manage forests, as recognized under the FRA. The expression projects that affect the quality of life of forest dwellers is vague. The affidavit directly contradicts clause 6(1) and rule 11 of the FRA and the order of the MoEF issued in 2009. Also, the MoEF has disregarded twice the official request from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs expressing its anguish over the above-said rules and orders being violated. The decision that only State-level approval is required for forest land diversion will not adequately address local concerns and it strips off the powers of Gram Sabhas guaranteed to them by an Act of Parliament. Immediate action has to be taken to ensure that the 2009 orders are implemented and no State-sponsored injustice is meted out to forest dwellers.