Skip to main content

Government of India may move to remove gram sabha consent clause from the forest rights Act, 2006

By Our Representative
After its decision to water down the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, passed in Parliament last year, the Government of India is said to be considering removal of the “consent” clause from the forest rights Act, 2006 as well. Popularly known as land acquisition Act 2013, which replaced more than a century old law wgucg allowed forcible land acquisition, two of its main provisions which the Centre seeks to remove from 2013 Act are social impact assessment and consent from 70 to 80 per cent of those sought to be displaced by a project.
Significantly, sources suggest, even before the BJP government came to power, the UPA had moved for complete removal of the consent clause from the forest rights Act, as the ministry of tribal affairs was considering clearances to projects without tribal consent as “illegal”. “In fact, the Prime Minister’s Office under Manmohan Singh had sought "legal opinion" in the matter of removing the consent clause”, the sources point out. It is expected that the Centre's new move would, therefore, face little political opposition.
Authoritative sources quoted the Prime Minister’s office to say that the Centre has been “discussing” possible ways to do away with the mandatory requirement of securing consent from tribal gram sabhas (village councils) before handing over forest land for industrial use. Once the proposal is ready, an amendment will be brought in Parliament, it is pointed out. While this is being done to quicken up clearances for industrial projects, according to one assessment, if with this, “cutting down of forests would be a political-bureaucratic discretion.”
The forest rights Act was passed by Parliament in 2006 and began being implemented in 2008, and one of its main focuses was to make the foresters prime owners of the forest area where they live. All those forest dwellers cultivated forest land before December 13, 2005 were to be made the rightful owners of the land and given land title. Thousands of applications by tribals all over India are currently pending before authorities demanding that their land should be "cleared". Even gram sabha consent for giving a nod was enough to hand over land.
According to sources, the first meeting on the issue of taking away the consent clause from the forest rights Act has already taken place, with officials suggesting that several ministries find it “extremely difficult” to implement major expansion projects in the tribal areas because of the “hindrance” stipulated in the forest rights Act. A major option being discussed is to replace “gram sabha consent” with “environmental public hearing” for an industrial project, which is nothing more than a consultative process, usually chaired by the district collector.
Meanwhile, the sources point out, the law ministry is being consulted in the matter. Officials concerned particularly want to know legal provisions which would require to be changed, as in their view large number of mining projects is on stake because of the tribal rights Act. “The law ministry's favourable advice would be used to contradict the legal view of the tribal affairs ministry”, the sources pointed out. The matter also “requires attention” as the Supreme Court in the Vedanta mining case approved of tribal village councils' consent.

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Vedanta is out but corporate loot continues in Odisha: Local activists tell NAPM yatra

By Our Representative
Lok Shakti Abhiyan leader Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental (also known as Green Nobel) Prize in 2017, has regretted that though Sundergarh in Odisha, like other forest areas, is a fifth schedule area, where Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) is applicable, but these laws are being “outrightly violated to facilitate corporate loot.”