Notification of Forest Rights Act may be delayed

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New Delhi, Nov 13 (UNI) The Forest Rights Act may have to wait for some time more before coming into force.

The indications came at the on-going National Workshop on Forest Fires during which officials from several states said they were yet to complete the process of forming sub-committees to identify critical wildlife habitat which will not come under the purview of the Act.

Though Secretary Environment and Forests, Meena Gupta asked the participating wildlife officials to expedite the process of identifying these areas, several of them told UNI that the process would take some time.

For example, Madhya Pradesh has 35 wildlife areas for which it will have to form as many sub-committees, a process which was taking a long time, said an official.

The legislation, titled Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed by Parliament, but the Act is yet to be notified.

The forest dwellers lobby has accused the government of diluting the Act under pressure of the wildlife lobby which had opposed it tooth and nail.

They had said several provisions of the Act will be in effect modified in the process of making rules.

Alleging connivance of the Environment Ministry, a tribal rights body 'the Campaign for Survival and Dignity' said moves were afoot to hastily declare forest dwellers' settlements as ''critical wildlife habitat'' without any proper procedure and without properly relocating them.

The conspiracy is to take land from forest dwellers in the name of conservation and to give them to the industry and timber mafia, it said.

On the other hand, wildlife lobby and forest department officials expressing similar doubts, said the land allotted to tribals and other forest dwellers would ultimately be bought by land mafia at throwaway prices and they would be forced to flee to urban areas to work as labourers.

UNI

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