The Environment Ministry Saturday said a document uploaded on its website as ‘draft National Forest Policy 2016’ a few days ago was actually only a ‘study’ by a forest management institute, and that it had not yet finalised the draft of a new policy.
The ministry also pulled out the document from the website. The contents of the document had been widely reported on.
“The ministry has not issued any draft notification on National Forest Policy. What has been uploaded on the website was a study done by the 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,” a statement from S S Negi, Director General, Forests, and Special Secretary in the Environment Ministry, said.
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Currently, the National Forest Policy of 1988 is in force. The ministry has begun the process of revising this policy to bring it in line with present requirements and to make it consistent with other forest-related laws. In particular, the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996, the Forest Rights of 2008, the National Biodiversity Act of 2002, the various court directives, new forest management rules have made it necessary to revise the national forest policy.
Last year, the ministry had invited suggestions from the public for this purpose. The suggestions were to be sent to director of IIFM, Bhopal by September 15, 2015. The IIFM study uploaded on the ministry website presumably incorporates such suggestions.
The study does say that it was based on “village level focus group discussions, regional and national level consultations, inputs from various stakeholders and analysis of primary and secondary datasets carried out during the years 2015 and 2016”.
“As Director General Forest, I would like to clarify that this document (IIFM study) 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. No process has been carried out on the document prepared by IIFM Bhopal, which is only one of the inputs,” Negi said in the statement.