Rajya Sabha passes Afforestation Bill

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 18, 2018


The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill despite the Opposition earlier proposing an amendment to it.

On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, who was the Minister of Environment and Forests in the UPA regime, had proposed an amendment to the Bill, that no compensatory afforestation projects will be taken up without explicit consent from gram sabhas.

This was aimed to protect the rights of forest dwelling and tribal communities.

“The Bill has important implications for the environmental and ecological security of our country…It strengthens forest departments…that have been starved of funds now get more funds. What the Bill does not do is empower forest dwellers…tribals…gram sabhas,” he told the Upper House yesterday.

Earlier, he had also said that “principles of law that require such provisions to be placed in the statute and not in the rules.”

However, on Thursday, the amendments were withdrawn following assurances by the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Anil Madhav Dave, that rules would address concerns regarding forests rights.

It is estimated that over ₹42,000 crore has been collected under CAMPA funds, up from ₹10,000 crore in 2009. The massive increase in funds is indicative of the large-scale diversion of forests for industrial projects in the last few years.

The passage of the Bill is expected to receive opposition from tribal groups, even as the Opposition has withdrawn its protests.

A collective of tribal groups on Thursday sent a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticising the Bill. “The CAMPA Bill is not going to lead to development of tribals, but it has great potential to dispossess tribals and also waste precious national resources,” the petition said.

It further added that such proposals are violating not just the domestic laws but also India’s international commitments.

“We the Scheduled Tribes/Indigenous Peoples /Adibasis of India feel, it is anti-Adibasi and anti-Constitutional and we oppose the Parliamentarians move in diluting the rights of Gram Sabha in FRA 2006 very cunning manner,” the petition said.

Published on July 28, 2016

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