The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Saturday said a document uploaded on its website as Draft National Forest Policy was, in fact, not a draft policy at all.

The document, prepared by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, titled ‘National Forest Policy, 2016,’ was uploaded on the Ministry’s website along with an office memorandum calling for comments on June 16.

“The Ministry is in the process of revising the present National Forest Policy, 1988. A draft National Forest Policy in this regard has been prepared and enclosed. All stakeholders are requested to send their comments, if any, by email… by June 30, 2016,” said the official memorandum issued on June 16, signed by the AK Mohanty, Deputy Inspector General of Forests (Forest Policy).

However, on Saturday, the Ministry issued a statement by SS Negi, Director General Forest and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, denying that it was the draft policy.

‘Inadvertent error’ “The Ministry has not issued any draft Notification on National Forest Policy. What has been uploaded on the website was a study done by Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal. The study has not been evaluated by the Ministry. The Ministry has not taken any decision on Draft Forest Policy. The study report prepared by IIFM Bhopal was inadvertently uploaded as Draft Forest Policy on the Website,” the statement said.

The document uploaded on the Ministry’s website had received a lot of criticism on multiple counts — such as diluting and ignoring Forest Rights, promoting private timbre plantations and others.

Negi’s statement further said: “As Director General Forest, I would like to clarify that this document is not the Draft Forest Policy. The Ministry has an elaborate procedure for preparing draft policy document, which takes into account multiple inputs from all stakeholders, State governments, think tanks and public consultation.

Draft policy later “No process has been carried out on the document prepared by IIFM Bhopal, which is only one of the inputs. A draft Forest Policy will be put in public domain once due process is carried out and views of all stakeholders taken into account.”

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