Campaign Condemns Environment Ministry’s “Review” of the Forest Rights Act

February 16, 2010

Campaign for Survival and Dignity
February 11, 2010

In a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse, the Environment Ministry today announced the formation of a ten member Committee to “review the implementation” of the Forest Rights Act. It is the forest bureaucracy that holds the land and the resources that people have rights to under this Act, and they are the ones who have denied those rights. This same bureaucracy is now to review the implementation of a law that was passed precisely to end the illegal abuse of power by its own members. Hence this move is clearly both malicious and illegal (the Tribal Ministry, not the Environment Ministry, supervises the law).

The committee consists of seven serving forest officials, one Tribal Ministry representative – who incidentally is also a forest official – and two outside experts. The conflict of interest is glaring. The committee is to look into issues of “sustainable forest management”, even as the same Ministry has done its utmost to sabotage the powers of people to protect their own forests under the law (a threat to the bureaucracy’s hitherto absolute powers).

The government, of course, is perfectly aware of the problems happening in the implementation of the law; these problems have been admitted in public, are present in official reports and have been the subject of protests across the country. The Environment Ministry and the State Forest Departments are responsible for almost all of these violations. Just a month ago this very Ministry had brazenly and illegally diverted land to benefit POSCO in violation of the law. If the Ministry is truly concerned about the Act, let it correct its own violations and take action against illegalities by its officers.

See www.forestrightsact.com and this link (http://www.forestrightsact.com/current-situation/75-chargesheet-on-governments-violations-of-forest-rights-act) for more details of the actual violations of the Forest Rights Act that are occurring on a daily basis.