October 8, 2021 9:17:53 am
CPI Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, Binoy Viswam, Thursday wrote to Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav with a request to extend the deadline for public comments on the proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act (1980) that the Ministry made public earlier this week.
Viswam stressed that the proposed amendments be translated into 22 languages to allow all people to respond and the deadline be extended by 12 weeks for public consultation.
The ministry had given a deadline of 15 days for submission of feedback. The proposed amendments have so far only been published in English.
Viswam’s letter comes a day after CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat wrote to Yadav, requesting to extend the deadline by 30 days.
“As a subject matter that directly affects the lives of India’s indigenous people and the conservation of extremely vital natural resources, it is essential to extend the deadline for the same,” Viswam wrote, adding that local public consultations need to take place as it affects communities across the country.
Alleging that the proposals have been made in the interest of private parties, Karat had written, “The proposals appear to be designed to undo various Supreme Court judgements related to protection of forests and payment of net present value compensation (NPV) and compensatory afforestation (CA) mandatory for diversion of forest land. It is noticed that wherever any ‘inconvenience’ is perceived for project proponents using forest land for non-forest purposes, the note proposes to simply waive application of the FCA. Given the context of privatisation of infrastructure projects which require forest land, the proposals will not only facilitate takeover of forest land, but make it cheaper and easier for corporates, intending to take the benefits of privatisation.
“This also includes mining companies with the mining sector being opened up for takeover by domestic and foreign companies. This is what underlies the points raised in the note, which we oppose as they are more concerned about protecting private interests and projects rather than addressing environment concerns.”
Karat further said the proposals tend to dilute the rights of the states to notify forests thereby further centralising authority. She said the proposals do not address the issue of rights of tribal communities and forest dwellers.
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