RIGHTS OF ADIVASIS AND OTHER TRADITIONAL FOREST DWELLERS

The India Greens Party is of the view that the Supreme Court ruling of 13 February 2019 has threatened the Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers and have created conditions for their eviction. The ruling seems to be a complete annulment of the Forest Rights Act. Not only this, the proposed amendment of the Indian Forests Act, 1927 will be an attempt to capture the forests and the forest dwellers. The party would like to underline the fact that no one has carried out such an all-out assault on forest rights since colonial times as like the present central government led by the BJP.

The IGP believes that the two decisions that were taken by the central government in 2019 threaten the customary rights of Adivasis and other forest dwellers throughout the country.

The party is of the view that the proposed amendment in the Indian Forest Act, 1927 is even more colonial and frightening. It is to be noted that the Indian Forest Act, 1927 has been criticized over the years as it was introduced by the British who not only wanted to establish legal control over India’s forests but also to earn revenue from timber. The proposed new amendment has far-reaching implications. Not only does it have provisions to override other forest laws, especially the hard-fought Forest Rights Act, 2006, and displace forest communities, it will also allow the forest department to use firearms to prevent offenses.

If the proposed amendment becomes law, then forest department staff can end the forest rights of any Adivasi or forest dweller in the name of forest protection by just paying them a paltry sum of money [Section 22A (2), 30 (b)].

The IGP thinks that the plan is to remove forest dwellers from the forests so that the forests can be handed over to private companies for making huge profits.

The party demands that the central government take corrective measures.

The funds under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2018 should be utilized only through the Gram Sabhas so that plantation of the local varieties and species is ensured contributing to biodiversity.

In case the government does not do anything, the IGP will appeal to the people and organizations to come out in the streets all over the country against the draconian proposed amendment to IFA 1927 and the Supreme Court’s move to evict the Adivasis and forest dwellers.

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