Govt. likely to amend Indian Forest Act, says Ramesh

New Delhi, Jan.3 (ANI): Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Monday said that the government is likely to bring in amendments to the Indian Forest Act in the next session of Parliament.

After receiving a report by the National Committee on Forest Rights Act (FRA) here, Ramesh said: "In the forthcoming session of Parliament, I hope to introduce these amendments. It is Section 68 of the Indian Forest Act (IFA) 1927 and the main purpose of this amendment is to end the harassment of tribals and ordinary people by local forest officials."

Ramesh further said, the government hopes "to end the system of foisting of cases on tribals and locals who are using forests for meeting their daily livelihood."

Speaking at a function, which was also attended by Tribal Affairs Minister Kanthilal Bhuria, Ramesh said the amendments were awaiting the approval of Law Ministry.

"We are bringing about amendments to Indian Forest Act in order to ensure that these large numbers of cases are not foisted on tribal communities people who are going into forest daily and picking up their daily requirements," said Ramesh.

"In Naxal-affected areas, a large number of cases are registered against the tribals... that has also been reported by the Home Ministry. So, we are amending the Forest Act," he added.

The Environment Minister said the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) flagship Forest Rights Act, 2006 in many ways, was the first systematic attempt by the Government to bring about democratic structure of the forest management in our country.

Citing that 60 percent of the country's forest area is in 180 districts of the country which have a very substantial tribal population and 250 million people depend on forests for their daily livelihood, the Minister demand for a "dramatic change" in the present model of forest management and urged the Forest Department to change its mindset on the Forest Rights Act.

"The people who get the rights are not going to de-forest. They are actually going to be partners in sustainable forestry. They are going to be partners in conservation of forest. We cannot any longer look up on people and tribals as enemies of forests. This model of forest management has to undergo a dramatic change," said Ramesh.

Section-68 of IFA, 1927 deals with the power to compound offences. (ANI)

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