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Protests planned against 'hidden agenda' to allow corporates access to forest land

By Our Representative 

The top land rights network, Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan, which held its core group meeting on October 11, 2021 regarding the proposed amendments in the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980, has called for a nation-wide protests on November 12 against what it called “irrational and unconstitutional” changes proposed in the law.
Chaired by Ashok Choudhary of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), senior farmers’ leader Hannan Mollah opined that the attempt to amend the Act is once again a backdoor ploy by surpassing the Constitution as well as the Parliamentary procedures.
The intention of these amendments is fundamentally handing over the natural resources to the hands of the corporates and deny the rights of the natural resource dependent communities on the forests. This amendment would bypass the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 entirely, which acknowledges the historical injustice rendered to forest dwelling communities, he added.
Another farmers’ leader Ramesh mentioned that the amendments are fundamentally on lines with the government’s agenda to monetise the natural resources and dispossess the communities from their land. Since 1980s when the FCA came into force, people have been agitating and struggling for their rights which brought in the Forest Rights Act. These amendments once again turn the tide against the peoples’ aspirations and rights opined Com. Ashok Choudhary.
Roma of AIUFWP said that without settling the claims under FRA, these amendments are snatching the rights of the Gram Sabhas as well as the federal structure of India is being centralised drastically. This definitely needs to be challenged as it also is against the spirit of the Bio Diversity Act.
Satyavan, a senior activist, said that this must be well disseminated to the various stakeholders before proposing such unilateral amendments. The draft must be translated into Indian languages.
Vijoo Krishnan of the All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said that the hidden agenda is to allow corporates to start cultivation of oil-palms and also plantations by giving them access to forest land. It no way can provide any solution to address climate change; rather the people in the forests have their traditions of protecting the forests and technical solutions without vision will only hamper the nature further and displace people.
The meeting ended with the Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan resolving to campaign against the unilateral move without any thought by the government  and consultion with mass organisations across India. It was decided to hold a nation-wide protest on November 12 to register protest condemning the proposed amendments.

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