Skip to main content

Forest conservation amendments to divert land for industrial, mining, commercial use

By Bharat Dogra 

The recent debate on amendment of forest conservation law has seen the emergence of very relevant objections, and interests of environment protection as well as democracy demand that now the government should give adequate attention and importance to these objections. The advantages which a democracy provides in terms of the possibilities of corrective actions can be properly realized only if the government remains open till the end to examining the objections on their merit and then making the due changes on the basis of this.
The importance and relevance of these objections emerges also from the fact that these are intimately related to the concerns that have been regularly voiced for a long time regarding the protection of forests and protection of rights of tribal communities or other communities living in and around forest areas. Briefly, we may mention four concerns that have been raised quite consistently by those who have been close to understanding and protecting forests and forest communities.
Firstly, there is a clear understanding that natural forests have a role of great importance in protecting ecological balance and protection from various disasters, a role which has further increased in times of climate change. There is thus a clear need for stopping the diversion of more and more of natural forests and forest land for various commercial activities. This diversion had been increasing at a very fast pace in the earlier years but this could be checked to a significant extent after the forest conservation law was enacted in 1980. This achievement of the forest conservation act should be recognized, respected and protected for future years too.
Secondly, the important ecological contribution of natural forests should be clearly distinguished from that of plantations of various trees of commercial importance (such as eucalyptus trees, or palm oil trees). While protection of natural forests is always beneficial in terms of protection of environment and livelihoods (and food security) of forest communities, the promotion of commercial plantations on the contrary can often be harmful and disruptive for environment as well as communities. This is revealed by the experience of not just India but several other countries as well. Hence natural forests should never be confused with commercial plantations. The protection of remaining natural forests is very important in itself, and also as a guide to what kind of plants and trees grow best in particular conditions, and in what kinds of mix.
Thirdly, the tribal and similar communities living in and around forest areas have suffered from historical injustices in terms of resource access and livelihoods, leading to many-sided deprivation, and hence the protections provided to them in the form of various rights legislations should be respected. Their life and livelihood patterns have been closely related to natural forests, and there are various possibilities of improving their livelihoods related to the protection of natural forests which should be enhanced. The wider aim should be to promote the harmony of protecting natural forests and protecting sustainable livelihoods of communities.
Fourthly, the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation should be met within this framework, and in fact this challenge is best met on the basis of this harmony and understanding. To respond to climate change by creating commercial plantations of trees is neither sound science, nor is it good for sustainable livelihoods. This will harm the cause of climate change mitigation as well as adaptation. However protection of natural forests and wild life supported in natural conditions of these forests by creating close links with sustainable livelihoods will help both climate change mitigation and adaptation. As for planting new trees, these should mimic local natural forests to the extent possible, and should be created on the basis of proving sustainable livelihoods to local poorest and landless people, with rights provided to them over all non-timber produce of these forests as long as forests are well protected by them. All this is based on the understanding that climate change mitigation and adaptation are extremely important but should be based on protecting and promoting ( never disrupting) sustainable livelihoods of rural communities. There is a real danger of big business promoting its narrow and selfish interests in the name of climate change mitigation and adaptation by promoting a highly distorted agenda which is disruptive for rural communities, and therefore it is very important to emphasize this.
All these are issues of abiding importance, and it is in their wider context that the various objections voiced to the officially proposed amendments of forest conservation legislation should be seen. It is widely apprehended that if these amendments go ahead, the diversion of natural forests which has been significantly checked by the existing forest conservation law would be adversely affected and more forests would be diverted for various industrial, mining or commercial activities, at a time when it has become important to protect every square inch of the remaining natural forests. Such diversion may increase particularly in the case of forests not specifically listed as protected or reserved. Similarly, the interests of tribal and other forest communities may be disrupted (instead of protected) by a distorted climate agenda, such as the one based on industrial and commercial plantations.
Hence the debate on these amendments also presents a crucial moment for defining our climate commitments—for deciding whether these commitments will be promoted in ways which are disruptive for communities or whether these commitments will be taken forward in protective ways.
Keeping in view the wider importance of these issues, the government should not hurriedly go ahead with these amendments, ignoring the various well-intentioned and well-argued objections that have been raised by community organizations working at grassroots as well as by various experts. The standing parliamentary committee attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change should also be able to examine these amendments and provide its detailed comments. We need time for this as well as consideration of these comments by the government. Hence it is clear that hurried introduction of amendments will be harmful and a denial of the corrective role of democracy.
---
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Man over Machine and India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food

Comments

TRENDING

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Violent incidents in Haldwani: CPDRS on dubious role of Uttarakhand government

By DN Rath  Center for Democratic Rights and Secularism (CPDRS) unequivocally condemns the dubious role of Uttarakhand Government and its administration in the incidents that happened in Haldwani of Nanital district of the state.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Birth of New Communist Party ushers in new epoch in Canada's Left history

By Harsh Thakor  On January 31, 2024, history was made with the formation of the (New) Communist Party of Canada (the (N)CPC), the successful completion of its Founding Congress, and the public release of its Political Program. A most sporadic development in turning course of Communist movement locally, and worldwide. It also pits a challenge to dogmatism or mechanical approach and stagnation. taps the revolutionary creativity of the masses and is major re-orientation towards shaping revolutionary class struggles and  the massline.

Ethiopian ruling classes, political masters in West have their hands soaked in blood

By Harsh Thakor  Over two hundred were killed in recent weeks in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara region. After peace-talks between the Oromo Liberation Army and the Ethiopian government did not materialise tensions are escalating in the Oromia region. Earlier, on November 22, least 25 civilians were massacred in a government aerial drone strike, in Chawaka districts of the Buno Bedelle zone. This incident took place only two days after a fierce battle arose between the OLA and governmental troops in the Sulula Fincha district of the Horro Guduru Wollega zone.

Landlords' armed bandits launched merciless attack in Brazil but face resistance

By Harsh Thakor  Armed bandits called the “zero invasion movement” comprising of landowners, gunmen and police marched into   Bahia with support from the PM [Military Police]. On January 21st, indigenous Maria de Fátima Muniz, known as Nega Pataxó, shaman of the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people, was shot dead in the Caramuru Catarina Paraguassu Indigenous Land and chief Nailton Muniz was seriously injured by gunshots, as were others indigenous people during an attack by the notorious  paramilitary group.

Landslide early warning system: Odisha Govt, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham collaborate

By Divya Saini  In a strategic move to mitigate the impact of landslides during storms, the Odisha government in collaboration with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is gearing up to establish a user-friendly Landslide Early Warning System (EWS) in Gajapati district. This initiative aims to provide advanced information, especially regarding landslides caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope.