Congress accuses Centre of diluting Forest Rights Act

New Delhi, July 10 (FN Representative) The Congress on Sunday accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of “diluting” the Forest Rights Act, 2006, also known as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and termed the ruling dispensation ‘anti-tribal’.Attacking the government, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi in a tweet wrote, “Modi-Mitr (friend) Sarkar (government) at its crony best!

For ‘ease of snatching’ forest land, the BJP government has come up with new FC Rules, 2022 diluting UPA’s Forest Rights Act, 2006.””Congress stands strongly with our adivasi (tribal) brothers and sisters in their fight to protect jal, jungle and zameen (water, jungle and land),” the former Congress president said.Earlier, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “In August 2009, in order to ensure the fullest implementation of this law (Forest Rights Act), the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a circular that stipulated that no clearances for diversion of forest land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would even be considered by it unless rights provided under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 were first settled.”As per this circular, the rights of tribal and other communities have to be settled before a decision can even be considered on forest and environmental clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, he claimed.

The Congress leader said the circular mandated that free, prior and informed consent of the families affected be obtained for such an exercise to be lawful.”Now, in a new set of Rules issued very recently, the Modi government has allowed for forest rights to be settled after final approval for forest clearances has been granted by the Centre. Obviously, this has been done in name of ‘ease of doing business’ for a chosen few. But it will end the ‘ease of living’ for the vast many,” the MP said.This destroys the very purpose of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, he said.Once forest clearance is granted, everything else becomes a mere formality and almost inevitably no claims will be recognised and settled, he added.”The new rules have been promulgated without any consultation and discussion with stakeholders including Parliament’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change. They will be challenged in the forthcoming session of Parliament,” the senior Congress leader said.