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Forest Conservation: Northeastern States UPSC NOTE

 

  • The Mizoram Assembly passed a resolution opposing the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, to protect the rights and interests of the people of Mizoram.

  • The amendment allows the diversion of forest land for various purposes within 100 km of India's international borders or lines of control without forest clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA) 1980.

  • Several other states in the Northeast, including Tripura, Mizoram, and Sikkim, have also opposed the 100-km exemption clause of the amendment.

Application of FCA in the Northeast:

  • Special constitutional protections, such as Article 371A for Nagaland and 371G for Mizoram, prohibit the application of laws enacted by Parliament that impinge on customary laws, land ownership, and resources.

  • In 1986, Nagaland extended the application of the FCA to government forests and certain other forests and wildlife sanctuaries.

  • Mizoram, on the other hand, has the FCA applicable to a significant portion of its forest areas due to its transition from a Union Territory to a State in 1986.

Recorded Forest Area (RFA) and Unclassed Forests:

  • More than half of the Northeast is Recorded Forest Area (RFA), with 53% being unclassed forests controlled by individuals, clans, village councils, or communities.

  • The Supreme Court's 1996 order extended the FCA to unclassed forests, bringing them under its purview.

The Forest Rights Act (FRA):

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA) 2006 includes unclassified forests within the definition of "forest land."

  • The FRA allows for the recognition of traditional community tenurial rights over forests.

  • Most Northeastern states have not implemented the FRA except for Assam and Tripura.

Protection of Forests:

  • The Environment Ministry mandated FRA implementation and prior informed consent of the Gram Sabha before approving forest diversion proposals.

  • The 2022 Forest Conservation Rules eliminated FRA compliance before final approval, placing the responsibility on the state governments to ensure fulfillment and compliance with the FRA before recommending a forest diversion proposal.

  • States can take legal measures to ensure mandatory fulfillment of the FRA before forest diversion and ensure Gram Sabha consent before handing over forest land.

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs can issue legally enforceable directions under the FRA to recognize and settle forest rights when forests are diverted for other purposes and forest-dwellers are relocated.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Forest Conservation: Northeastern States UPSC NOTE
Forest Conservation: Northeastern States UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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