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Jharkhand CM writes to PM Modi against new Forest Conservation Rules 2022

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren stated in the letter that as chief minister of a state with 32 indigenous communities, he felt it was his responsibility to inform the Prime Minister about the violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 in the change brought about by the Forest Conservation Rules 2022

Jharkhand CM writes to PM Modi against new Forest Conservation Rules 2022

New Delhi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren told Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday that the Centre's Forest Conservation Rules 2022 "brazenly dilute" the powers of local gram sabha and "uproot" the rights of forest-dwelling communities. The chief minister urged Modi in a letter to change the Forest Conservation Rules 2022, which will establish systems and procedures to protect the rights of tribal and forest communities in the country.“They (the rules) brazenly dilute the power of local gram sabha & uprooting the rights of millions, members of forest-dwelling communities, particularly the Adivasis,” he said in the letter dated December 1.

According to CM Hemant's letter

According to the letter, the rules have eliminated the previously mandatory requirement of obtaining the Gram Sabha's prior consent before using forest land for non-forestry purposes. “To cut down trees without even acquiescence from the people who look upon these trees as their ancestors is a painful attack on their sense of ownership,” it said.

Soren stated in the letter that as chief minister of a state with 32 indigenous communities, he felt it was his responsibility to inform the Prime Minister about the violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in the change brought about by the Forest Conservation Rules 2022. According to the report, an estimated 200 million people in India rely on forests for their primary source of income, and approximately 100 million people live on forest-classified land.

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“These new rules will end up uprooting the rights of these people who have called the forests their home for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. Their traditional lands may get snatched away in the name of development, and these simple, pure-hearted people of our country will have no say in destroying their habitat,” he said in the letter.

 Forest Conservation Act

The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MOEF) in 2009 clearly stated that no clearances for diversion of forest land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would even be considered by it before Stage-1 (in-principle) approval unless rights provided under FRA were first settled, the letter pointed out.

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In 2019, this provision was diluted to the extent that consent of Gram Sabha would be required before stage 2 clearance, the letter mentioned. However, in the new notifications of 2022, this condition for the consent of the Gram Sabha has been shockingly completely obliterated. “I implore that you step in and ensure that this fait accompli that has been created is done away with and the voice of the tribal man, woman, and child is not silenced under the guise of progress. Our laws must be inclusive,” the letter said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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