Topic : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
6. Do you think India’s New Compensatory Afforestation Rules dilute rights of forest dwellers? Analyse. (250 words)
Reference: Hindustan Times
Why the question:
The question is based on the New Compensatory Afforestation rules and its effect on forest dwellers.
Key Demand of the question:
Explain in detail the impact of India’s New Compensatory Afforestation Rules on forest dwellers.
Analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.
Structure of the answer:
Briefly provide the background of the question. The Rules had been pending since the government passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act on July 28, 2016. They govern the utilization of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
Discuss in detail the provisions of the new Compensatory Afforestation rules. Discuss the drawbacks associated with it. Rules don’t have provision for getting consent of the Gram Sabhas (only mention consultation) and provision for transferring funds to the Gram Sabha.
There is a difference between consultation and consent. Moreover, VFCs aren’t statutory bodies. The Forest Rights Act (FRA) gives rights to the Gram Sabha and this is in violation of that law.
The rules ignore the rights of forest dwellers and tribal. They also said that the new CAF rules are against existing laws ensuring forest rights and self-governance for communities living in Scheduled Areas.
The Rules do not take The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) into consideration.
The rules are clearly a deliberate attempt to bypass the FRA(Forest Right Act) entirely.
There is no reference to consent, no reference to what forms of proof will be required that it has been done, and no reference to completion of recognition of rights.
The rules do not talk about compensation when diversion is done on CFR area. In these areas, the CAF should be given to the Gram Sabha’s because they have the right over the area’s resources under FRA.
Conclude that the Rules should be implemented through the Gram Sabha and not the Van Sanrakshan Samiti under Joint Forest Management. There should be Gram Sabha auditing. Transparency and accountability should be mandatory and the forest department should be answerable to the Gram Sabha. Local species should be planted in compensatory afforestation process. Artificial regeneration must not be allowed and provisions should be made by Gram Sabha’s to select species.