New Conservation Act of 2022 “ Project Clearance” said to violate fundamental rights of tribal forest dwellers

New Conservation Act of 2022  “ Project Clearance” said to violate fundamental rights of tribal forest dwellers

Fundamental rights of forest dwellers entrenched in the Forests Rights Act, 2006


Gram Sabha, a highly empowered body under the 2006 Act, finds no mention in the New Conservation Act 2022

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has put in abeyance the New Forest Conservation Rules 2022. The NCST in its message to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) said that by prioritizing "project clearance", which is defined as a government approval granted for the diversion of forest areas for non-forest purposes under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the New Forests Conservation Rules 2022 violate the fundamental rights of forest dwellers entrenched in the Forests Rights Act, 2006.

The chairperson the NCST, Harsh Chouhan, has written a letter to the Minister (MoEF)  asking the government to "reinstate" monitoring of the application of the 2017 Rules that grant STs and other Traditional Forest dwellers (OTFDs) the FRA Rights on forest land that is being considered for diversion.

The Forest Rights Act of 2006 and the Forests Conservation Rules both acknowledge the rights of tribes and other traditional forest residents to use the resources and lands of the forests on which their subsistence depends. The Forest Tribal People Act of 2006 grants the forest tribal people the freedom to cultivate their own land and to live there, as well as access rights to water bodies for activities like fishing and grazing. One of the main things about the Act was that the Act also requires the Gram Sabha and rights holders to stop any destructive practices that could harm these resources or the cultural and natural heritage of the tribal people. These obligations include the conservation and protection of biodiversity, wildlife, forests, adjacent catchment areas, water sources, and other ecologically sensitive areas. The Gram Sabha is also a highly empowered body under the Act. However, there is no mention of the Gram Sabha under the New Conservation Act of 2022. The absence of the Gram Sabha's approval prior to stage II clearance is one of the new Rules and is the most significant change in the Act. The current session of Parliament will consider the new forests conservation rules, 2022, which were announced on June 28. 

The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006's provisions would be undermined by the revisions to the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, according to policy analysts and advocates for forest rights.

The guidelines announced in June 2022 have been put in abeyance at the request of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). NCST Chairman Harsh Chauhan wrote to Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav and stated “ The current rules have done away with the requirement of seeking consent altogether and have left the process of recognition of rights to be carried out after stage 1 clearance or even stage 2 clearance.” 

Understanding the three regulations - Forest Conservation Rules of 2003, Forest Conservation Amendment Rules 2004, 2014, 2017:

By achieving the goals to protect the forest, together with its flora, fauna, and other various biological components as well as maintaining the integrity and territory of the forests, the Forest aims to safeguard the Indian forest ecosystem.

2004 AMENDMENT ACT : To preserve its incredible biodiversity and ecological heritage, only necessary uses of forest land for diverse types of development are allowed.

2014 Act: allowed access to forest dwellers so they may use the resources as they had been doing so for generations, safeguard and manage forests, and shield them from wrongful evictions.

Raising the level of life for those who live close to forests while preserving their natural resources is the goal of the 2017 Amendment Act (a further amendment to the 1980 Forest Conservation Act). To improve the quality of life for those who reside close to the forest and protect the forest's natural resources.


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