Skip to main content

Govt of India push for 'commercially important' invasive timber for afforestation to damage ecology, groundwater

By Our Representative
The recently-released draft National Forest Policy (NFP), says a representation before the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), would adversely affect scheduled tribes, 90% of whom live in forest areas and intractable terrains, by turning them into migrant construction labourers by displacing them for the exploitation of minerals and other development projects.
Pointing out of that 95% live of them live below poverty line and totally depend on forest, agriculture or agriculture-based activities, the representation by mines, minerals & People (mm&P), a network of NGOs working for people affected by mining, in response to the reactions sought by the ministry, says that, even as seeking to "mitigate climate change", the draft policy places "more-than-required emphasis on the commercialization of forests".
Thus, by seeking to achieve afforestation in the name of increasing tree cover and not forest cover, mm&P says, the draft policy "emphasizes on monoculture", which can lead to "major disturbance in the local ecology. For instance, studies have shown that the plantation of eucalyptus in the name of afforestation has depleted groundwater in Arkavathi Basin, which led to fall in water supply in Bengaluru".
Pointing out that the draft focuses on "the need to stimulate growth in the forest based industry sector and encourage forest corporations and industrial units", mm&P comments, "Commercialization of forest is a major threat to the forest dwelling communities and tribal communities." The representation has been signed by mm&P chairperson Rebbapragada Ravi and secretary general Ashok Shrimali.
It underlines, "Most of the livelihood of these communities (350-400 million people) depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The focus on increasing the timber species which will lead to reduction in the NTFPs. It has to be remembered that forests are much more rewarding in terms of NTFPs than timber produce", adding, "Economic use of timber can be very dangerous -- as there is no specification of how government can monitor the exploitation of the forest by the corporates."
Sharply criticizing the emphasis on compensatory afforestation in the draft, mm&P says, "Pushing non-indigenous 'commercially important' invasive timber species to meet afforestation targets will damage local ecology and groundwater recharge. A recent report of CAG has pointed out that 50%-60% compensatory afforestation has not taken place."
Pointing out that the draft policy "is not in line" with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, and the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, which are "protective legislations for the indigenous communities", mm&P says, it "does not elaborate on engaging local people in forest management.
Noting that "participatory approach" is vaguely used, with little emphasis on Gram Sabhas for important decision makers in all matters concerning forests and ecosystem, mm&P says, The draft policy, even as talking of "extension of protected areas and corridors for maintaining the forest cover", ignores the "flaws in the exclusionary model of protected areas governance which has caused displacement of local population".
Objecting to the draft policy refusing to consider "mining as a threat to forest conservation", mm&P says, "More than 50% of mining happens in forest areas and hence mining should be seen as a threat to forest ecosystem and proper regulations and guidelines should be issued."
Then, says mm&P, in the name of "promotion of cultivation, harvesting, transportation and marketing of wood by relaxing the existing felling and transit regime in the country”, the draft policy seeks to "open window for illegal transportation of timber leading to high levels of corruption in the bureaucracy."
In fact, according to mm&P, the draft policy "is a shift from tribal to timber" by aiming to aims create "new 'zamindars' and turn the tribals into slaves. It will dilute the access of tribal community to the forests and disturb the natural ecosystem affecting the life and livelihoods of millions of people."

Comments

Ashok Sharma said…
This govt is bent upon giving land to corporate houses and depriving forest dwellers and tribals their rights. I think this will have to be changed after 2019

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."