1 Tahrcountry Musings: Indian Forest Rights Act – An interesting observation

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Indian Forest Rights Act – An interesting observation

The recently passed Indian forest rights act is mired in controversy with protagonists of wildlife and tribals taking diametrically opposite stands in their respective fields. This benefits neither the wildlife nor the tribals. What is needed is pragmatism. I found the following piece from Mr P.N Unnikrishnan very interesting. Browse through this piece. It is food for thought

The Forest Rights Act is often misinterpreted as an Act for the tribals to counter the over emphasis on wildlife. This is an illusion. The Act must be understood as a document emphasizing the point that the forest belongs to primarily the wildlife and then to the tribal. It is an Act to refute the interests of the mainstream society on forestland.

The Act says that the right holders have the fundamental duty and authority to protect and conserve the forest and its biodiversity. The right of people over forests can be withdrawn if it is irrefutably (scientifically) proved that an area is critical to the existence of wildlife and cohabitation is positively harmful to wildlife interests. The Act does not speak of sacrificing wildlife interests to favour tribal interests. It is but against forceful relocation (eviction) without necessary compensation and that too before verifying whether an area is critical for wildlife

Many a P A has been declared, not based on the criticality of that area for wildlife. There have been other considerations such as that of catchment area of dams, for instance. The Act says that the primary lookout in this regard must be the significance of the area for survival of wildlife.

The Act does not say that all important wildlife areas have been covered by PAs. More PAs can be constituted, provided they are critically important for wildlife, but relocation from there needs to be actively pursued only if cohabitation is found to be positively harmful to wildlife.

The Act is a statement expressing solidarity of tribal and wildlife interests and stiffly opposes the intrusion of mainstream people on forestland. See it in the right spirit and the confusion will disappear.


Aravind said...

Thanks mohan for that posting. Unni's observations deserve wider coverage and discussion

Ravi Kant said...

what happened? MOEF was sleeping or what? The wise course now is to learn to live with the fait accompli