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Civil society "disturbed" over Congress support to BJP on CAMPA Bill, approaches Rahul Gandhi

By Our Representative
Disturbed by the news on “compromise” of the Congress with the ruling BJP at the Centre on the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2016, rights-based organisations working on the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 across the country have prepared a petition for Rahul Gandhi's Office to review the party's decision.
A Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, statement has quoted activists to say that “they are using social media, i.e Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, emails etc. to reach out to the Congress vice president and request him to halt the Bill in the Rajya Sabha at any cost."
Significantly, activists had mobilised and convinced the Rahul Gandhi Office, Congress and other opposition parties, including the Left, during the last Parliamentary session, resulting pushing several amendments to the CAMPA Bill by Jairam Ramesh of the Congress. As a result, the Bill could not be passed.
In their, activists have raised three fundamental questions:
  • What compelled Congress to compromise and withdraw the amendments which they pushed through Jairam Ramesh in the last Parliamentary session?
  • How can the Congress compromise with Modi government on CAMPA Bill when it claims to have launched a mega campaign across states against it alleging dilution of FRA, 2006 and undermining Gram Sabha?
  • How will Congress ensure that what it had brought in as amendments in the CAMPA Bill in Rajya Sabha will get placed in the rules to be framed when the amendments would not be there in the Act itself?
The Bill is was passe d in the Lok Sabha in the last Parliamentary session and is being place before Rajya Sabha. Most probably, the Bill will be placed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday and may be passed by the House.
“In this crucial moment, the rights based organisations have no other way out but to approach the Congress, which along, taking the support from Left parties, can halt the CAMPA Bill in the Rajya Sabha”, says CSD.
The rights based organisations are of the view that if the CAMPA Bill gets passed in its present form, it would be a “disaster for the tribals and forest dwellers and would be in direct contradiction with the “historic” FRA, 2006 which they have owned after long struggle since India’s independence.
They assert that in the CAMPA Bill passed by the Lok Sabha, there is no mention of any role of Gram Sabha, which has been recognised as the “authority” over its people and natural resources falling within the community Forest Resource (CFR) area.
“Rather the Bill in its present form over empowers the forest bureaucracy to use the CAMPA fund without the approval of the Gram Sabha”, insists CSD.
“We are not against the CAMPA Bill, we also want regeneration and restoration of lost forest and wildlife, but our main concern is that let not the forest burcecaracy, the servants bypass the real authority and owners, the Gram Sabhas while taking up plantation over Community Forest area”, it adds.
Under the FRA, 2006, it suggests, many tribals occupying over forest land in different villages across the country have got titles but at the same time, in most of the cases occupied forest lands have not been demarcated properly, and many tribals and other traditional forest dwellers occupying forest land are yet to get titles.
“In this context, who will decide where to do plantation? The forest department which has been has been blamed for evicting the tribal and forest dwellers from their forest occupied land? Who will decide what species will be plant?”, wonders CSD.

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