Forum > Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests > Comments by Ashok Sharma, I.F.S Contd

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 10, 2007

 

Rule 13 practically covers all possible sources for gathering evidences with regard to establishment of rights. However, a word of caution needs to be put across to the nodal authorities that forest resources in the country are not inexhaustible.  In fact, they are suffering depletion at an alarming rate. The instant Act while tackling the core issue of poverty among tribals, may have just released the genie of greed among the expectants, specially since OTFD, who out number the tribals by a factor of three or more, are now part of the exercise. Forest areas in non Scheduled / Tribal Areas States stand to be affected in a major way by way of loss of forest land, productivity, biological diversity as well as water security. A lot, therefore, is at stake.

                        

Rule 16 - 21 concern declaration and notification of Critical Wildlife Habitats. The State Chief Wildlife Warden may have formulated his comments on the same. It would be in the fitness of things to obtain his comments on the impact of these rules on the wildlife existing outside PAs. There is a need for the Chief Wildlife Warden to exercise abundant caution while commenting on Rule 19, i.e. resettlement package as per section 4(2)(d). For this purpose, not only the existing provisions of the Constitution but also State laws pertaining to Resettlement would need to be studied. There are many areas where there would be need to “read between the lines”. Hence, assistance of legal experts should be actively sought.

 

THE ABOVE COMMENTS ARE OF A VERY PRELIMINARY NATURE. THE MOEF HAS NOT ALLOWED TIME FOR WIDER CONSULTATIONS. IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO REQUEST THE MOEF TO URGE THE MINISTRY OF TRIBAL AFFAIRS NOT TO RUSH THROUGH THE PROCESS OF FRAMING RULES. IT MAY BE CONVEYED THAT FOREST DEPARTMENT IS ANTI TRIBAL. THE COUNTRY NEEDS TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN  CONFERMENT OF FOREST RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY OF THE COUNTRY. IT MAY BE BORNE IN MIND THAT POVERTY IS THE BIGGEST POLLUTER. BUT LET IT NOT BECOME THE EXECUTIONER OF THE NATION’S BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES AND, THEREFORE, ECOLOGICAL SECURITY. WE ARE A COUNTRY OF OVER 1 BILLION PEOPLE, WHO OCCUPY BARELY 2.4% OF THE EARTH’S LANDMASS AND 1% OF THE EARTH’S FOREST COVER! OVER 17% OF GOBAL LIVE STOCK MAURADS OUR NATURAL LANDSCPES DAY IN AND DAY OUT. CONSEQUENTLY, OURS RIVERS CARRY 35% OF GLOBAL SILT LOAD! STATES LIKE MAHARASHTRA, WITH PER CAPITA WATER AVAILABILITY OF ONLY 595 CUBIC METERS / ANNUM, ARE ALREADY SITTING ON THE BRINK OF A WATER FAMINE. A MAJORITY OF OUR FORESTS OCCUPY UPPER CATCHMENTS. THAT TRIBALS OTHER POOR NEED TO BE ADEQUATELY COMPENSATED IS NOT DENIED. IN FACT, IT IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR. HOWEVER, THERE IS NO NEED TO ACCOMPLISH IT WITH AN ANGRY FIST POINTED AT FOREST ADMINISTRATION. THE EXISTING FOREST LAWS ARE QUITE ADEQUATE TO ACT AS THE FRAMEWORK FOR THE TRIBAL ACT. THERE IS A NEED TO WORK FOR ACHIEVING SYNERGY.

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